This article originally appeared on WILX News 10. To view the original article, click here.
EATON RAPIDS, Mich. (WILX) – More and more high school students are vaping on school grounds. A national problem, affecting many public schools, including those right here in Mid-Michigan.
Eaton Rapids installed vape sensors in their middle school and high school bathrooms. The district’s superintendent said it was out of desperation, in an effort to stop the growing problem.
“This is not a sting operation, (not) something that we’re trying to surprise kids with,” said Eaton Rapids High School Principal Derek Lounds. “We’ve been very up front with student, parents, and families that we have these vape detectors. Our goal is to help students make better choices.”
Lounds said vaping in the school bathrooms became even more common after returning from COVID.
“Bathrooms are unsupervised areas right, we don’t have adults stationed in bathrooms. We were getting a lot of reports from other students like ‘hey there’s three kids in the bathroom vaping,’” said Lounds, “So even though students are reporting, ‘Hey, we have tons of people vaping, you gotta go there between second and third period.’ We just didn’t have the information that allowed us to respond in a quick or immediate fashion.”
A very hard area to monitor, until the school found an effective solution. Vaping detectors that can also detect marijuana, aggression, tampering, gun shots and more. The sensors do not utilize cameras, maintaining privacy for students and staff.
“It has been a deterrent to possession and use in the school,” said Jason Ferguson, Eaton Rapids School Resource Officer. “And it’s given a sense of comfort to other kids that don’t want to be involved or around it.”
Ferguson said Eaton Rapids is no exception to the nationwide increase in underage vaping. However he did note, that the sensors have successfully reduced reports of drug use at school. Principal Lounds agreed.
Lounds said students have told him they finally feel comfortable using the school bathroom again.
“That’s really our heart and goal in the issue, is to prevent vaping, not to try and catch more kids making poor choices,” said Lounds.
If kids do get caught by the new vaping sensors, the school has a “first offense” probation program in partnership with local police. The program provides drug-use prevention education, drug testing, and gets parents involved.