District adopts new disciplinary responses to vaping

District+adopts+new+disciplinary+responses+to+vaping

By Zakiyah Gaziuddin, Staff Reporter

Students caught using electronic cigarettes and vaping devices are now subject to two days of Saturday detention as a result of the new policy on electronic cigarettes that takes effect this school year. Students will also have to complete an online educational program on vaping. 

The program aims to educate students who use Juuls and other e-cigarettes on the dangers and harmful health implications that accompany them. Students will also be required to take an assessment at the end of the course to ensure that they’re actually retaining the information. No one at Conestoga has taken the course so far this year.                                                                                         

For teenagers in America, vaping is an issue that’s all too familiar. Companies like Juul Labs Inc. have undergone severe scrutiny by the public for having flavors such as mango and mint, flavors that are largely the reason for the rise in vaping amongst teenagers, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. In addition, according to Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at least one Pennsylvania resident has died from lung injuries associated with vaping — one of 18 deaths nationwide. 

Before this school year, students caught in possession of or using a vape were suspended. If caught again, students received two days of suspension and if caught a third time, they were given three days. The administrators wanted to create an educational program that would help students thoroughly understand what was happening to their bodies when they vaped. The new program informs students about vaping, including the chemicals involved, their effects, and vape companies’ marketing tactics.

“We felt that (the previous) type of punishment at this juncture was not really having the effect we wanted it to have. Kids were still vaping,” Boyle said.

Discussions of policy change began at the end of 2018, and the plan was put into place by May. 

“It’s amazing. We actually started discussing this at the end of last year, and none of (this newly available research) was out there. I mean, we knew the research that was saying (what) there could be, but this is such a new technology that they needed more research,” Boyle said. 

Administrators said that they hope two Saturday detentions with the added component of a compulsory online course will serve as a better deterrent to vaping than missing a day of school. 

 “Other (schools) were suspending people for more days. (In that case) you’re not really telling the student about the harming of your health and your wellbeing that can come from vaping,” Boyle said.

The ultimate mission of this new program is not simply to punish students but to make them understand the danger of vaping and why they’re being punished. While it’s too early to tell the effectiveness of the policy, some students believe it may stop students from vaping at school, but whether or not it will completely eradicate the epidemic is yet to be determined. 

“They may just stop (vaping) in school, but they probably won’t stop outside of school,” said   junior Camille Herzog. 

The change in policy was not a clear-cut decision. According to Boyle, the administrators took their time to deliberate and collectively reach a solution they believed would better combat the mounting issues surrounding vape usage amongst teenagers. Overall, Boyle said he feels satisfied with the results.

 “What we started out with wasn’t what we ended up with, but what we ended up with was, I feel, a very good program (that has) students feel the consequences but feel supported as well,” Boyle said.