Mar 27 2023

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Vaping Detectors in Schools

The growing use of environmental sensors can help curb vaping and bullying among middle and high school students.

Some 2.5 million students are smoking e-cigarettes, according to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Concerned school leaders are turning to technology to catch students and discourage the use of these devices on campus.

Possession of vaping devices in most places is illegal for those under 18. But because the vapor from e-cigarettes evaporates quickly, school authorities may find it challenging to pinpoint when an infraction has occurred.

However, environmental sensors can quickly alert school safety teams when students are vaping on campus. Here are a few things to consider before installing the sensors.

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1. How do the Sensors Integrate with Your Current Network?

While the goal is to reduce the numbers of students vaping on campus, you must be clear on how the new device will integrate with your existing network and physical security platform. Environmental sensors are most effective when connected to your surveillance camera system, and it helps when both technologies are aligned. Find out if your new sensors will be able to talk to your existing system and allow necessary automation.

RELATED: What school IT teams should know about next-generation security cameras.

2. Putting a Stop to Vaping Requires All Hands on Deck 

While this may seem like a simple physical security problem that will impact only one or two departments, coming up with an adequate response to vaping requires an entire team. Before you purchase the technology, connect with all necessary parties to discuss how the devices will be used. Talk with your IT director, administrators, schools safety team and educators about efficient workflows for activating and using the sensors.

3. Schools Must Have a Viable, Response Plan for Vape Alerts

Sensors are only as effective as a school’s notification plan. It is essential to assign alerts to parties who can respond immediately. For some schools, the alerts come to the principal, but he or she may not be able to respond to the alerts in a timely manner.

Consider which members of your team can respond most quickly to the alerts and address student behavior on the spot.  

DIVE DEEPER: More schools install vape sensors as part of a holistic safety strategy.

4. Dive Deeper into the Sophisticated Features of Your Vaping Sensor

Most environmental sensors can do much more than tell when a student is smoking. Some can detect the types of chemicals that students are using, such as THC or other harmful compounds. Other sensors have an audio component that can pick up when someone is being bullied.

To get the most out of your environmental sensors, work with the vendor to secure in-depth training on the full range of features.

DISCOVER: Six ways to spend ESSER funds before they expire.

5. How Will You Handle Students Who Are Caught Vaping?

In New York state, it is illegal to sell or distribute e-cigarettes to anyone under 21. So, what do you do? Are you going to take a 14-year-old to the sheriff's office? How will your next steps affect all of your students? Do we really want them to have juvenile records for vaping?

In addition to confiscating students’ vaping paraphernalia, consider taking a restorative approach, including education for first-time offenders that can help students break their addictions.

French Anderson Ltd/Stocksy

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