Skip to content

Vape detectors are working in NWSS washrooms — but there's a catch

The good news? The detectors are having an impact. The bad news? The problem is moving elsewhere.
Challenge: Vape detectors installed in the main-floor washrooms at New Westminster Secondary School have helped decrease vaping there — but other washrooms are seeing an increase. Photo whitebalance.oatt/E+/Getty Images

Vape detectors have helped to reduce the amount of vaping in main-floor washrooms at New Westminster Secondary School — but they may have pushed the problem elsewhere.

That was the word at the New Westminster school board’s June 6 operations committee meeting.

In March, the district installed vape detectors in the gender-neutral washrooms on the main floor of NWSS as part of a move — along with surveillance cameras — to improve security at the school.

The detectors set off a blue light and automatically send an email to administration when vaping is detected or when the detector is tampered with.

Trustee Danielle Connelly queried whether the district plans to expand its use of vape detectors in school washrooms.

“Are you hearing reports that students are just moving to other bathrooms, and is there contemplation that we’ll be expanding the vape detectors to all washrooms in the high school specifically, perhaps even middle schools?” she asked.

School District 40 associate superintendent Maryam Naser said vape detectors aren’t something that’s been contemplated for middle schools.

But she said there’s been a decrease in vaping in the main-floor washrooms since the detectors were installed — and a corresponding increase in other washrooms.

“There is certainly an interest from both students and staff to add vape detectors in other locations,” she said.

Naser said vape detectors aren’t a stand-alone solution; she noted the district is also working to increase communication on the school code of conduct, as well as substance use prevention education.

“Really, all of our initiatives have got to do with inclusion and making bathrooms safe spaces where students are free from intimidation and so on,” she said.

Naser said the district is continuing to work on the issues around safety and has seen “strong support” for moving further in the direction it’s going.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie,

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks