Rural Arkansas school among first to install vaping detectors

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FULTON COUNTY, Ark. — As concerns about youth vaping continue to plague the country and the state, one small school district in north Arkansas is doing something about it.

The Salem School District recently installed vaping detectors at the high school. This rural school is among the first in the state to do so.

The devices, which cost about $1,000 each, detect particles that are released during vaping.

The Salem School District paid for two of them out of its own budget and placed them in the two main high school restrooms.

 At first glance, the devices look like a smoke detector, but they’re detecting much more than that.

“Even if a student tries to mask it by blowing into their shirt or blowing into the toilet or blowing it anywhere in the room, it’s going to set it off,” Superintendent Wayne Guiltner says.

 When the detector goes off, it sends an e-mail to the high school principal.

“We feel like everybody’s got to take some kind of stand against it,” Guiltner says of the persistent vaping problem.

Guiltner says the detectors have been in place since last month. He says the school district was averaging one vaping-related suspension every couple weeks.

The district notified parents and students that the devices were being installed.

Since the installation, no one has been caught.

“If you know that you’re going to be caught, it’s easy to say no,” Guiltner says.

Guiltner says the district plans to purchase more vaping detectors for locker rooms, and he expects other school districts around the state to follow suit.

Guilter believes the only other schools to have vaping detectors installed include some areas in northwest Arkansas and near Batesville.