DELL RAPIDS, S.D. – The Centers for Disease Control has reported another death due to a vaping-related illness; bringing the death toll across the country to eight.
Vaping now is a cause for alarm for many parents and educators; both working to find ways to keep kids from picking up the habit.
One South Dakota school district is installing a device to catch kids in the act. The device is roughly the size of your iPhone and can be easily hidden in locker rooms or bathrooms. Those two areas of the school are where Dell Rapids educators see students vaping the most.
“I think I would be lying to myself if I said that it wasn’t a problem,” Drew Bunkers, Dell Rapids high school principal, said.
According to the South Dakota Department of Health, in 2015, more than 17% of high school students are using e-cigarettes. To “clear the smoke” from campus, Dell Rapids has installed vape detectors.
“When that sensor is able to tell that [vaping] is taking place, it sends a silent message to where ever we determine we want it to go,” Summer Schultz, high school superintendent, said. “So, for example, at Dell Rapids, it will go to our SRO [student resource officer], it will go to the principal, possibly myself. And it just says there’s a vaping activity happening right now.”
What can be viewed as a simple text helps educators clear the air and catch those using vaping devices. There will be roughly twelve different devices throughout both the middle and high school campuses, which will go online sometime this month.
In addition, to the devices, Dell Rapids school district has updated its policies in regards to the use of e-cigarettes. Students will either need to do a presentation for younger peers about the dangers of vaping or attend the Carroll Institute for addiction counseling, in addition to suspension.
But, the school district’s focus is not on the punishment, but the protection of their students.
“We’re trying to help you make better decisions,” Bunker said. “And protect your body, protect your health, because we know what it leads to and that consequences from it.”
Not only will the small device be able to detect when students are vaping, but it will also send alerts if it detects elevated noise levels, such as a fight.