Port Arthur Independent School District looking to add vape detectors across campuses

Published 12:40 am Friday, September 23, 2022

Leaders with Port Arthur Independent School District are looking to be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with the realities of vaping.

Just as homeowners place smoke detectors in their home to alert them to danger should there be smoke, the same could be said to placing vape detectors in schools, according to Dr. Melvin Getwood.

The assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction-secondary said PAISD is looking to install vape detectors in bathrooms on campuses district wide. Earlier this week trustees approved going out for bids for the installation.

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Currently, Memorial 9th Grade campus is the only one with vape detectors installed, said Adrienne Lott, media and community specialist.

Getwood explained students do not realize the dangers of smoking, but the school leaders do.

“And we are going to do whatever we feel is necessary to promote good health and encourage our teens to stray away from smoking — whether it is cigarettes, vapes, drugs or any harmful or illegal substance,” Getwood said.

The veteran educator said vaping is not a problem in the district, but officials know it happens in communities across the U.S.

“The community of Port Arthur is no different than any other community in that we all know adults and even some under-aged citizens are choosing to vape because they think it’s cool or it’s not really smoking,” he said.

“We do not want vaping to become a problem, so we are tackling the issue head on beforehand so that it does turn into a problem for us.”

PAISD does work to teach students the dangers of vaping through health classes and the annual Red Ribbon Week campaign that all campuses take part in each October.

Lott said some students believe vaping isn’t actually smoking and is not harmful. And with the variety of flavors marketed which hints at it being benign, this makes it even more important to educate students of the dangers.

In addition, high school counselors are working with Lott to provide students, families and the community with visuals and resources to show and explain the dangers of vaping.

The district also placed the information on its website and across various platforms for the campuses. This, Getwood said, is so at every level students are being taught the dangers of vaping, smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing drugs and more.

Lott said the district’s goal is to have vape detector installation completed by the end of 2022.