HALO vape detection sensor coming to GCPS

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Greensville County public schools are rolling out a new security feature. 

GCPS Maintenance Supervisor Jerry Winningham addressed the School Board on Monday to explain the features of the new HALO Smart Sensor 3C, a detection system which will be installed in restrooms at Greensville County High School and E.W. Wyatt Middle School. The sensor is provided by Genetec, GCPS’ contracted security company.

Winningham said that the devices will pick up the sound of gunshots as well as detect THC and vape smoke in the air. Additionally, the devices have been programmed to register the word “help.”

“If someone’s in the restroom and something happens — even if they fell down and they needed help, they can call for ‘help’,” Winningham said. “It will recognize the word ‘help’ and send the appropriate message to the appropriate person.”

The HALO sensor can also be programmed to monitor carbon monoxide levels and air quality, register aggression or motion or even be paired with a panic button. Those features can be added to the system if the board determines a need for them, Winningham said.

Importantly, the HALO system does not use cameras, audio recorders or capture any other personal information, Winningham said. It merely analyzes audio and is programmed to send an alert to the Emporia Police Department, Greensville County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police in the event of a shooting. If vaping is detected, school administrators will receive text alerts with the location of the restroom.

Winningham plans to have the sensors installed before the start of the 2024-25 school year, though he hopes it will be sooner. Ideally, he’d like to have it done during the upcoming spring break from April 1-5.

Winningham also updated board members on a number of other projects in GCPS. Greensville Elementary School recently saw the completion of its second modular classroom while its new playground equipment has been delivered and is awaiting better weather before construction begins. The media center at GES also underwent a massive renovation and plans have been drawn for a new building exit.

Both the elementary school and the high school are also developing plans to modernize the elevator systems, Winningham said. The elevators at GES have not been updated since the building was constructed in 1998 and GCHS’ elevator system is an entire decade older. The two schools have also signed contracts for updated intercom systems.

The district also recently acquired four new weapons detection systems, according to Winningham.

“With the support of the superintendent,” Winningham said. “He has given me the ability to use a lot of the grant funding to improve our facilities and in the past few years I think we have seen the drastic improvement.”

“Absolutely,” Superintendent Dr. Edwards agreed.