Lynchburg City Schools is responding to a spike in student vaping, which is prohibited in schools. They’ve installed new vape detectors in the restrooms at Heritage and E.C. Glass High Schools to detect vape from a nicotine or THC vape is in the air. Officials say the detectors also can sense when something is sprayed to mask the vape and will also detect loud noises that can indicate fighting and send an alert to administrators. These detectors also activate the cameras outside of the restroom. The school system says it will begin searching students who are in the restroom where the vape detectors are triggered. 

Here is more information from Lynchburg City Schools:

Lynchburg City Schools, similar to many other school districts, has seen a continued spike in incidents involving student vaping. The purpose of this letter is to alert you of the installation of new vape detectors, state possible consequences if your child engages in vaping on school property, and give you more information about vaping if you feel your child is involved in this kind of behavior. We take this issue very seriously due to the negative health effects vaping can have on our students. 

Vape Detectors

The increase in vaping prompted us to install vape detectors in the restrooms at Heritage and E.C. Glass High Schools. The sensors will alert school staff immediately when vape from a nicotine or THC vape is in the air, allowing us to respond. These detectors also can sense when other sprays, like cologne or perfumes, are sprayed to cover up vaping and will send principals a “masking” alert. These sensors can also detect loud noises that can indicate fighting, horseplay, or bullying and send an alert in real-time to our administrators to respond. Our ultimate goal is to decrease vaping and other negative behaviors in restrooms at LCS and focus on the education of our students. 

These detectors DO NOT have cameras embedded in them but do activate the cameras outside of the restroom where the vaping is taking place. It is our practice moving forward to search students who are in the restroom where the vape detectors are triggered. Please talk to your child about the importance of immediately leaving an area where others are breaking the rules or laws. As always, it is important for students to say something if they see something. This will help them avoid an unnecessary search if they are not using or possessing a vape.

Consequences for Vaping on School Property

Vaping is prohibited by School Board Policy JFC. This and other prohibited conduct appear in school student handbooks, which all students and parents/guardians sign off on to acknowledge that they understand the rules and behavioral expectations. While we try to proactively educate students to prevent any incidents from occurring, there will be consequences if a student vapes on school property. The consequences for vaping can include in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, out-of-school suspension to the Restorative Suspension Center, referrals to the school board discipline committee, and possible police involvement. 

Information about Vaping

When students vape in school it can be due to an addiction to substances that they have developed, a choice to engage in the activity with a friend, or curiosity related to vaping in general. In any case, spending excessive time out of class is heavily correlated to lower grades and reduced understanding of the material presented. Additionally, vaping on school grounds negatively impacts students and staff who do not want to be exposed to vaping. 

The Surgeon General reports that nicotine and THC are addictive and can harm brain development, which continues until about age 25. We know that using nicotine and/or THC may make it harder to engage in school-related tasks. In conversations with students, it appears that many are not aware of the harmful effects of vaping. The reality is that vape products are not regulated by the FDA so the actual nicotine and THC concentration can vary significantly. 

Vaping devices are very small and can easily be hidden on a person or blend in with normal backpack items. Like cigarettes and items containing THC, stores cannot sell vaping items to people under the age of 21. However, students report that they purchase or obtain the devices online or buy from older siblings, friends, or other family members. We would also like to take this time to remind all adults that vaping and the use of nicotine and THC products are prohibited on all LCS properties. This included afterschool activities.

Our goal is also to partner with parents to help support our students in making positive decisions for themselves and the school community. Please consider having a conversation with your child today about this important issue. If you feel that your child is vaping and would like information about programs to help them quit, please contact Student Services at (434) 515-5000. Together we can all work towards a healthy future for our youth. Thank you for your continued support of our school system.