La Grande School District buys ‘camera-less cameras’ to prevent student vaping

Senior Jace Schow recalled feeling nervous when he went to the restroom at La Grande High School. “Last year, you’d go into the boys bathroom in between passing periods and there’d be like, 15 people in there,” he said. “You couldn’t even use the bathroom. You’re always worried like, am I gonna get caught in here with them, even though I’m not doing anything?”


The situation was similar in the girls bathroom. Karly Burgess remembers the thick cloud of vapor that would form over a huddle of students in the restroom.


Joseph Waite, the La Grande School District’s facilities manager, said staff heard about an uptick in e-cigarette use after schools began reopening from the COVID-19 closures and wanted to take action. After doing some research, the district settled on the HALO Smart Sensor as a possible solution.


Resembling a large smoke detector, the HALO is designed to detect tobacco and THC vapor caused by e-cigarettes in addition to a host of other airborne chemicals. Waite said the district installed them in several bathrooms across the small Eastern Oregon town’s high school and middle school.


“We’re hoping to now have some form of surveillance, some form of monitoring (that) doesn’t impede the privacy of our students,” he said.