School district combats rise in vaping, tobacco through smart sensors in schools

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Tobacco and drug related offenses are on the rise in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

Lauren Richmond, safety and health coordinator for CMCSS, reported a 42% rise in tobacco charges this year compared to the 2019-2020 school year when the district was primarily full-time in school.

Richmond reported her data during Tuesday CMCSS school board meeting.

Drug offense charges are also up in CMCSS with an increase of 55% at the high school level and an 525% increase in middle schools.

Richmond reported 85 tobacco charges through Feb. 28 during the 2019-2020 school year. The 2021-2022 year has also seen a large rise in the number of tobacco charges in the high school with 147 reported as of Feb. 28.

The middle school has seen an increase in tobacco-related charges with 31 reported in 2021-2022 compared to 21 reported in 2019-2020. Drug-related offenses in the high school has increased from 55 in 2019-2020 to 85 in 2021-2022, a 35% increase.

The largest percentage increase occurred at the middle school level, going from four drug-related charges in 2019-2020 to 25 in 2021-2022, or an 84% increase.

Are Halo Smart Sensors the answer?

Rossview High School is using a Halo Smart sensor to detect tobacco use and emergencies.

To combat the growing use of tobacco and vapes, Richmond said the district is applying for grant funds to purchase more Halo Smart Sensors, a real-time vape detector and security device that will alert district leaders of tobacco violations in bathrooms.

“We do have some schools that have already purchased these sensors that are installed into the bathroom,” Richmond said. “It has a lot of different things you can program into it.”

The devices monitor indoor air quality and changes to particulate matter in the air and will alert school resource officers of keywords like “help” or sounds like screaming and gunshots.

Richmond said the devices have been installed in West Creek High School, Clarksville High School and Rossview High School.