NPHS responds to vaping issue with HALO Sensors

This article originally appeared on the Knight Crier. To view the original article, click here


Jake Jacobson has had to use the bathroom for four class periods now. He usually waits until he gets home, but he simply can not today. He excuses himself from the classroom, scans the five-star QR code, and walks into the Boys’ B pod bathroom with his hands over his ears and his breath held. He stops in his tracks; something is different. It’s…. silent! He removes his hands and releases his breath. He can’t believe it! The air is its average flavor instead of five hundred different fruits. Students are coming in, using the bathroom, washing their hands, and…. leaving right after! It’s a New Year’s miracle: Jake can finally use the bathroom peacefully!

Although Jake Jacobson is not a real North Penn student, his experience can be found around the high school as it has implemented the long-awaited HALO Smart Sensors that are dedicated to preventing drug use and harm within schools across the district.

Although the sensors themselves sound like a great idea to prevent vaping, the question that has been proposed amongst students and teachers is whether they work.

North Penn High School’s Principal, Kyle Hassler, has the answers we have all sought.

“I think there have been improvements! I have had both students and teachers come up to me and thank me,” Hassler stated, “They’ve said since they’ve been in [the HALO sensors] it’s been different and they are able to go in and use the bathroom without the smell and without the crowds,” Hassler elaborated

Vaping is not something that a select group of high schoolers partake in. In fact, on the first day of the HALO sensors being installed, there were around sixty-eight alerts.

With that many alerts, how could students possibly be caught?

“We have really made it a focus of security and administrators that whenever there is an alert we follow up with it. I can’t tell you the exact number but I can tell you that there have been quite a few each day where we have been able to go and ultimately search the student and then find something on them and implement consequences,” Hassler answered.

In life, there are consequences for bad actions. In the case of in-school vaping at North Penn, the consequences vary depending on the number of offenses you have and what drug you are using.

“With a vape that has nicotine in it we still have the nicotine cessation program. The student will get referred to SAP [Student Assistance Program] and I believe it is a five to six week program where they go through and help them stop vaping. With nicotine that is in place, but if the student does not complete that there are suspensions that are put in place,” Hassler explained.

When it comes to the newly popular smoking chemical THC, the chemical responsible for making you feel high when you smoke weed, the repercussions are different.

“As far as THC we have something here now called the youth aid panel. Basically what that is, it’s a diversionary program so that we don’t have to refer students to the police. It is a program that we have with the assistant district attorney. If it is a student’s first offense with THC they are referred to that,” Hassler continued, “Through the youth aid panel some of the recommendations that they have to follow through on with that include counseling, drug related counseling, and then some other things that they have to do within the schools like keeping up with their grades and also maybe some community service. That is the route that we are going. If they are not eligible for that or they choose not to then we would go through with a suspension and then a referral to the police.”

When the sensors themselves pick up detection of drug use, someone is screaming for help, a fight, etc. Administrators get an email of the exact time the incident occurred and can immediately see a recording of the security cameras a minute before and five minutes after. The walkies each security guard and administrator is equipped with will go off with the exact location and incident type.

These sensors have been implemented in the bathrooms at North Penn High School, but they can be installed in other locations, such as locker rooms.

“We are looking at the locker rooms and other places as well. Some of the other schools are getting them installed. We have them and are able to move them as well. If we see other places that are becoming more of an issue then we can move the sensors around. There is a possibility that they will go there,” Hassler explained.

Tampering with such devices also brings significant repercussions as well.

“There is a tamper detection, so if they are touched, we also get an alert that says they are being tampered with. An audible alarm goes off with that, and in the bathroom, it will say tamper, tamper tamper,’” Hassler stated.

North Penn has disciplinary action on deck regarding student interference with the sensors.

Hassler explained, “We have had students try to, and we have caught the students that have tried to. We take that very seriously because they are expensive. So something like that would be vandalism, which would give you a possible referral to the police and up to a ten-day suspension here at school. We are very dedicated to making sure that they are not being tampered with. So in these situations, we would pull the video and we are doing a full investigation even as far as pulling fingerprints and things like that.”

Students like North Penn junior and lacrosse player Dallas Bright are thankful for implementing the HALO intelligent sensors.” “I feel like they are great. Every time I go into the bathroom, it’s now more accommodating. I can use the bathroom now and get out without having to smell blueberry juice all over the bathroom,”” Bright explained.” “As athletes, we shouldn’t be vaping anyway, but many of us do. It really helps with that too and helping our teams play better.”

Thanks to HALO Smart Sensors, North Penn High School can continue to prioritize education and the well-being of its students to ensure a positive future for all!