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Moorpark Unified School District is installing vape detectors in bathrooms at Moorpark High School, Chaparral Middle School and Mesa Verde Middle School.
The 12 Halo Smart Sensors manufactured by New Yorkbased IPVideo Corp. are part of a security surveillance system package that the district purchased for $198,495, said Lynn David, assistant superintendent of business services.
The security systems in the bathrooms include sensors—not cameras—that detect vaping and loud noises consistent with vandalism or safety issues and calls for help, David said.
Installation is expected before the start of the new school year on Aug. 23.
“I firmly believe that the installation of vape detectors in the bathrooms is a critical step in ensuring the safety and well-being of our students,” Superintendent Kelli Hays said.
Kids and teens who use vape devices face elevated risks to their long-term physical and mental health, according to health experts. The cartridges used in many of today’s popular vaping devices contain nicotine, an addictive chemical that can affect learning, concentration and impulse control. When teens breathe in the aerosolized nicotine, lung damage occurs. Teenagers who vape cannabis risk similar problems.
Because the liquid in an e-cigarette is vaporized instead of burned, the odor and visible vapor cloud disperses quickly, making it very difficult for teachers and staff to catch students in the act, according to public information officer Daniel Wolowicz.
School district officials said the Halo Smart Sensors are a proactive way to stop students from vaping on campus, especially in bathrooms. The devices have proven successful in other school districts across California and the United States, he said.
“These high-tech detectors will help us tackle the vaping issue on campus and create a healthier learning environment. When we can quickly spot vaping activities and discourage such behavior, we’re making sure our students have the best possible space to grow, learn and stay healthy,” Wolowicz said.
The vape detectors are equipped with advanced features designed to efficiently detect vaping activities, whether the vape oil contains nicotine or THC. The detectors don’t use cameras, record audio or capture any personally identifiable information.
The alarm system is engineered to respond to other potential threats, including fights, loud noises such as gunshots, and spoken keywords that may indicate distress or the need for immediate assistance.
The sensors work by monitoring particulates, carbon dioxide levels, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide levels, temperature and humidity, light levels and sound levels.
Upon detecting problems in a bathroom–whether caused by vaping, fighting or vandalism–the detectors trigger real-time alerts that are sent to school administrators via text messages.
This enables administrators to respond promptly to any concerning situations and take necessary actions to ensure the safety of students, according to Wolowicz.
If a student tries to damage the device, an alarm sounds.
“Similar to the smoke detector in an airplane bathroom,” said Wolowicz.
Maintenance staff, he added, is also building wire cages to offer another layer of protection.