HOLLIDAYSBURG, BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Last year, over 1200 people had lung injuries related to vaping and more than 20 died. That’s according to the CDC. It’s a problem still growing among teenagers in our nation.
Now, the Hollidaysburg Area School District is trying to get ahead of the problem by installing vape detectors in several bathrooms in their schools.
There will be two sensors in four bathrooms in both the Junior and Senior High Schools. When vaping chemicals are detected, administrators immediately get a location-specific alert on their phones. It can also sense loud noises, like possible vandalism or fighting.
“We don’t promote the ‘gotcha’ mentality, that’s not it. It’s just about let’s learn from what we know and we know that vaping is very addictive,” Dr. Maureen Letcher, Principal at Hollidaysburg Area High School said.
Vaping is an issue HASD dealt with over the past few years. Last year, Hollidaysburg Borough passed an ordinance that would fine someone until 18 years old for having a vape, just like cigarettes.
For the 2018-2019 school year, there were 35 disciplinary incidents involving vaping at the Hollidaysburg High School, and 13 for 2019-2020, which Letcher hoped is due to constant education, the new ordinance, and school closing in march.
“Most people don’t really want to do anything that they’d get caught or they wouldn’t be able to get away with, so knowing about these sensors or just having them in our building will definitely help,” Junior Madeline Waibel said.
Even though there are other problems that need to be addressed, like keeping everyone healthy during this pandemic, some thing are still the same.
“Addiction is addiction, and peer pressure and making not so great choices will always be there for everybody,” Letcher said.
The Lung Disease Foundation of Central PA and the Ronald McDonald House Charities paid for the sensors. They will be installed in the near future.