A Northern Alberta school division installed vape detectors last year to see if they could curb the use of the popular devices at their schools.

Holy Family Catholic Regional School Division Supt. Betty Turpin says they have been very happy with the results from the nearly first five months of this school year.

“We’ve heard from students that they feel more comfortable going to the bathrooms knowing vaping won’t be occurring,” says Turpin.

“So far the detectors are doing awesome, they have definitely curbed vaping in our schools,” she adds.

Holy Family decided to install the detectors after students voiced their concerns with their peers vaping in the bathroom. Turpin noted the board of trustees meet with students from across the school division multiple times during the year, and it was unanimous that students were seeing vaping going on in the washrooms and they were feeling uncomfortable going in to use the facilities. Administration decided to take action and started to brainstorm strategies to eliminate the use of vapes in their schools.

“We had some discipline that we’ve had to do, but that’s normal in a school year,” she says.

“We met with MLA Dan Williams and one of the topics we brought up is finding a way to eliminate flavoured vapes from the province.”

Turpin says Holy Family hopes that there will be a plan similar to the one created by the Province to eliminate flavoured cigarettes from the shelves a couple decades ago.

In spring 2023, Holy Family installed vape detectors to see if they would be an effective measure to help curb the use of vapes in the bathrooms. Turpin says the devices detect particulates and even loud noises near them, sending messages to administrators’ phones. Administrators can then go to the location to investigate what is happening at the location.

The main concern was ensuring the activity was eliminated as it is illegal for people under the age of 18, and they did not want vaping occurring on premises.

The devices are installed in cages on the ceilings and Turpin says they’ve already gone a long way to improve air quality. She says the school division has been pleased with what the detectors can alert administration to, even beyond the students vaping in the washrooms. The detectors can pick up cigarette smoke, vaping fumes, marijuana smoke, fire smoke and even loud noises if there is an aggressive situation occurring in the area. Turpin says the noises can be anything from yelling to destruction of property in the washrooms, all of which will be alerted to administration.

Holy Family installed 35 devices across eight schools. Each vape detector costs $1,700 each, but they hope to mitigate the $80,000 project cost with grant money.

Turpin says the school division has asked the vape detector company to differentiate the types of activity that the monitors are picking up, so administration can act accordingly to formulate plans to address the concerns.

by Emily Plihal Local Journalism Initiative Reporter – South Peace News – southpeacenews.com

Original Published on Jan 31, 2024 at 15:40

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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