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Minnesota Schools Turn to Tech to Catch Vaping, Bullying

Special sensors are making their way into Westbrook-Walnut Grove schools to help eliminate the use of the popular nicotine products among students as well as identify elevated noise levels that may suggest violence or bullying.

by Alyssa Sobotka, The Daily Globe / April 18, 2019

(TNS) — Easily concealable, nearly odorless and quickly evaporated are among the qualities of many electronic cigarette devices that make vaping difficult to detect — particularly in schools — as the nicotine products become more popular among teens across the country.

At Minnesota's Westbrook-Walnut Grove schools, new technology may be an answer to combating usage on school property and fight against what’s widely considered an addictive and harmful behavior.

According to WWG high school principal Sam Woitalewicz, the school is currently in the midst of testing FlySense vape detectors. The detectors, most commonly installed in school restrooms and locker rooms, detect vape, smoke or elevated noise levels that may suggest the occurrence of violence or bullying. Upon detection, the camera-less device sends a text or email notification to a school administrator.

The approximately $1,000 sensors also include real-time analytics that may be viewed with a compatible smart device app.

Woitalewicz said he views proper education about the dangers of nicotine addiction as the best deterrent to teen e-cigarette use occurring across the country, and the school has hosted professionals to discuss the subject with students. However, because vapor is difficult to detect, he added, sensors will provide an extension of the school’s commitment to helping students make positive, informed decisions.

“We have so many great kids and families in our district,” he said. “I’m hoping this is seen as a very positive thing for our school.”

©2019 The Daily Globe (Worthington, Minn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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