Vape Detector on Trial at the High School

Perkiomen Valley High School has begun the trial of a vape detector designed to alert staff when illicit vapors are identified in one of the student bathrooms.

This detector searches the surrounding air for an array of variables beyond vape particulate, such as rust and humidity. Instead of setting off an audible alarm like a smoke detector, the new vape detectors will alert staff of the activity through their computers and mobile devices.

“This trial will help the district determine if this brand of vape detector is the right fit for PV, and could lead to future installments in the high school and middle schools,” said Mr. Ganesh, the IT director at the high school.

The high school has been combating student vaping for years. It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase or use a vape in the state of Pennsylvania, and students and staff of age are prohibited from vaping in school. However, these regulations have not stopped students from asking to go to the bathroom to vape in secret. Most students and staff have suffered from the overwhelming smell of mango and cotton candy vape when walking into a random bathroom, and prior to these detectors, it was difficult for the staff to track down who left the stench.

Vape detectors could help reduce the rates of vaping at school, but some students fear the detectors are an invasion of privacy. However, Security guards only rely on vape detectors to alert them rather than having to check into every bathroom routinely.

“A lack of information currently provided by the district could lead students to question their privacy. But this deficit could easily be attributed to this only being a trial of the product, not a sudden installation of detectors school-wide. The vape detector has absolutely no camera functionality and is focused only on attributes found in the air,” Mr. Ganesh said.

This trial comes after the school’s previous attempts to eliminate vaping among the student body via education in health classes and hall passes to keep a record of who was where when vaping was reported. While somewhat effective, these methods leave something more to be desired.

Vape detectors are likely the future when it comes to student safety, and this trial will give the school groundwork for future vape detector installation.

“This is the next step in giving the high school’s security the upgrade it needs,“ Mr. Ganesh said.