‘You’re always taking a risk’ | Rockingham School leaders explain what vape detectors do

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — School districts are trying to combat the use of vapes in school. Guilford County Schools is installing these devices this Spring. Other districts like Rockingham, have had the detectors for years. WFMY News 2’s Nixon Norman found out how they work.

Vape detectors look almost identical to the smoke detector you have in your home but the purpose behind them is much different.
School districts across the state have installed these devices in school bathrooms to try to cut down on vaping – and they’re seeing the positive impacts.

Vaping in school bathrooms is mostly a thing of the past in Rockingham County Schools, “We still do catch folks every once and a while trying to experiment in our schools, however, we have seen those numbers significantly decrease,” Rockingham County Schools Director of Safety and Public Information Officer, Sean Gladieux said.

Every middle and high school in the district has multiple vape detectors. They’ve had them installed for about 3 years.

But what do these vape detectors actually do? They have the ability to detect small particles that are released when someone vapes, whether it’s tobacco or THC and alerts school administrators.

Rockingham County School leaders said these devices can even sense when someone’s trying to cover up vaping with some sort of spray.

“If people try to mask a vape detector using their axe spray or any type of perfume or cologne or anything like that, it will sense or detect that, especially the newer models,” Gladieux said.

He also said kids experimenting with vapes are getting younger and younger. That’s why they’ve started talking about putting the devices in elementary schools.

“If we feel it’s in the best interest of our students to install those in our elementary schools, we will search for the funding and make that happen in Rockingham County Schools if it will make a difference and save the health of our young people,” Gladieux said.

He said these detectors are not used to get students in trouble but to protect them from the harm vaping can cause, leading the way for Triad school districts in an effort to keep kids safe.

Gladieux warns students looking to vape, you’re always taking a risk 1. because you have no idea what could be in the vape liquid and 2. because you never know how it might affect you.