Vape sensors installed at Albemarle High School
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va (CBS19 NEWS) -- According to a National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than three million middle and high school students currently use any tobacco product.
Over 2.5 million of those users do so via e-cigarettes. Albemarle County Public Schools is doing something to lessen that number in their own division.
ACPS spent much of the summer remodeling a number of bathrooms at Albemarle High School from communal to single-user. School officials say the new privacy could come with a cost.
"Privacy is very valuable," says Lindsay Snoddy, the Director of Building Services at Albemarle County Public Schools.
Bathrooms at Albemarle High School spent much of the summer under renovation. What used to be four large, gender-specific bathrooms, are now 23 single-user bathrooms.
Director of Building Services at Albemarle County Public Schools Lindsay Snoddy knows what this could mean.
"With the value we are placing on privacy, also comes the ability that you may not want going on at a school," says Snoddy.
Like vaping -- a trend that has been on the rise, especially among middle and high schoolers. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, a collaboration between the CDC and the FDA, E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among youth since 2014. Principal Darah Bonham has seen the evidence at Albemarle High School, especially in the bathrooms.
"We saw that the larger bathrooms that have more students in there sometimes and unfortunately with some of our youth, through vaping and other things sometimes, they are experimenting with stuff we don't want them too," says Darah Bonham, principal of Albemarle High School.
AHS decided to install sensors during the renovation that notify administrators when someone is vaping. And it's working.
"A dozen or so have been detected," said Bonham. "They're working and allowing us to intervene and figure out what we need to do next."
Bonham says, although students will face consequences, the sensors will help students.
"This allows us to do intervention and figuring out what is going on in their world that make it feel like a necessity when they vape or do things of that nature," says Bonham.
After detection, he says, school resources will be available, including counseling services, mental health support and social workers.
But vaping is not the only thing these sensors can detect.
"When the administrators get that notification, it tells you what it is. So they'll know what it is or whether it's vape THC, if it's a code word that's coming through or if it's a tampering," says Snoddy.
"The good thing is, it provides you with a wealth of tools to figure out how it meets the needs of where you are," says Bonham.
Snoddy says ACPS has applied for additional funding for all secondary schools through the Virginia School Security Equipment grant to install more sensors in other places.