Hilliard Schools install vape detectors in high school bathrooms

With a recent outbreak in vape-related illnesses amongst teens nationwide, Hilliard is doing its part to tackle this health concern to protect the safety of its students. 

   On September 17, 2019, Hilliard City Schools announced that the district would be installing six new vape detectors throughout the high school bathrooms via Twitter. These devices, similar to smoke detectors, can detect vaping substances in the air and come equipped with a microphone to alert administrators of loud noises that could signal a fight breaking out. The Hilliard City Schools tweet closed with “vaping is a huge concern and we must continue to educate our students and parents about the dangers,” and prompted various questions and opinions from the community in the replies. 

   One of the major questions brought up by parents and members of the community was the cost of the devices. Earlier this school year, Olentangy Local’s board spent nearly $64,000 to install vape detectors in each of the district’s four high schools. In a follow up post on the Hilliard City Schools website, Superintendent John Marschhausen disclosed that the district would be piloting six vape detectors, two at each high school, beginning on a smaller scale and evaluating the effectiveness before making any decisions to purchase more of the devices. School board member Heather Keck said Marschhausen had informed the board members on September 9th that the district had acquired the vaping detectors from a $3,000 grant.

One of the newly installed vape detectors in a Darby bathroom, covered in gum in attempts to make the device nonfunctional by students.

   While many parents were in favor of the devices being installed, other members of the community, including past students, argued that Hilliard should not be focusing on the vaping epidemic amongst its student body, but diverting its attention towards the mental health of the high schoolers. 

   One Twitter user replied to the initial announcement with, “I understand the epidemic however why not implement more mental health initiatives?”, to which Hilliard City Schools replied with a statement on the district’s focus on mental health and promoting Hope Squad, a school-based peer-to-peer suicide prevention program for students. 

   This message of the district’s investment in student health was reinforced in their follow up post. 

   “We’ve trained well over 200 students as Hope Squad Members, added a dozen guidance counselors and social workers, and expanded partnerships with health care providers.” 

   The rest of the post discussed the district’s other attempts to keep students safe in regards to bullying and working with the Hilliard Police. 

   Marschhausen ended with “It’s in our DNA here in Hilliard… We Stand up and Own our actions, we believe in the Power of our Team, and we live our Passion for Growth.”