District will invest in sensors to target vaping

School Board approves spending nearly $20,000 to detect illegal device in high school, middle school

By LINDA FAUSEL

Ozaukee Press staff

In an attempt to crack down on vaping, the Northern Ozaukee School Board unanimously approved the purchase of a vape sensor system Monday night for $19,512 to better monitor and track usage among students in the middle school and high school.

Staff members had previously expressed concerns about the increasingly serious issue of vaping in a letter to School Board members.

“Each year the ability to track and support students who are bringing devices to school becomes more challenging (given the number of students who may be bringing these types of devices to school),” the letter states.

“The use of a sensor system would allow administration to have a better working knowledge of locations and times of possible usage of these illegal devices in our school. It would also provide efficiencies to our staff to be able to follow-up in a timely manner with limited disruptions to classroom learning.”

The letter was signed by Supt. Dave Karrels, High School Principal Mike Leach, Middle School Principal Charlie Schwartz and Director of Business Services Josh McDaniel.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youths.

The e-cigarettes, according to the CDC, can contain nicotine, ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease, organic compounds deemed “volatile,” cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.

The CDC warns that even the exhale can expose the user and bystanders to harmful substances.

Statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services show that in Wisconsin, e-cigarette use among youth increased 154% between 2014 and 2018. In 2014, less than 8% of high school students were using e-cigarettes ­— in 2018 that number jumped to 20% or one in every five students.

At the Northern Ozaukee School District, reports of student vaping are investigated and reported to law enforcement. Educational information is provided to the student.

High School principal Mike Leach said vaping distracts kids from the task at hand.

“High School education these days requires focus on content...and all of the classroom work and collaboration possible,” he said.

“Students are learning content and topics...at high levels of rigor and that is our focus each day. Vaping takes up a considerable amount of time. Anything that takes away from...a child’s education is disruptive.”

Karrels said the plan is to place the sensors in 12 locations throughout the middle school and high school. This information will be shared with students and parents.

He hopes that the sensors will serve as a deterrent and inspire all students to “make good choices.”

“We know that vaping can lead to students engaging in other high risk activities including drug use,” he said. “We are fortunate to have so many students who do the right thing.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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