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STURGIS, Mich. — Sturgis Public Schools is installing vaping sensors in the middle school and high school bathrooms, Superintendent Art Ebert said.
Ebert said school staff wants to be proactive and help prevent the use of e-cigarettes among students as much as possible.
“There will be consequences, but the main purpose is the teaching because not all students realize there are health impacts to vaping,” said Ebert. “There’s particles in it, there’s nicotine. It’s addicting so there are lifelong impacts.”
The Halo smart sensors are small, white circular devices installed in the bathroom ceiling.
When the sensors detect the aerosols from vape devices, it alerts an administrator via text.
Ebert said the sensor will also trigger hallway cameras so school staff can respond quickly and identify students involved.
The vaping sensors are also tamper proof, so an alert goes to school staff if a student tries to disable it.
Students caught vaping could face a two- to five-day suspension and/or be required to do a research project on the health impacts of vaping, Ebert said.
A prevention specialist said the habit is spreading among younger kids.
“Vaping is quickly moving into younger and younger grades. We know of 5th graders and middles schoolers getting caught vaping, and that has some potential for some long term impacts,” said Leigh Moerdyke, the program director of prevention & advocacy at Arbor Circle.
Moerdyke said a common misconception among students about vaping is that the device produces a harmless water vapor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarettes can contain nicotine, heavy metals and other cancer-causing chemicals. They can also be used for other drugs like marijuana.
The CDC states vaping can cause harm to the development to the adolescent brain and damage to the lungs.
The earlier kids start using a substance, the more likely they are to struggle with addiction later in life, Moerdyke said.
She said parents should do their research and serve as a resource for kids about the impacts of vaping.
Many of the devices today are hiding in plain sight and look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.
Moerdyke says if you suspect your child is vaping, connection is key so don’t lecture or accuse them first.
She says to ask questions and have an open and honest conversation.
For more tips on talking to your kids about vaping, visit talksooner.org.