School District to install vape detectors | News, Sports, Jobs

The School District of Lee County plans to install vape detectors in five schools as part of a pilot program.

Initial schools include Estero High School, Fort Myers High School, Cape Coral High School, Lexington Middle School and Caloosa Middle School.

The detectors are $1,000 per unit and $335 for each installation for a total of $173,550. There will be numerous vape detectors at the pilot schools, which would also include inside the boys and girls bathrooms.

The district received a net award of $2,220,879.59 as part of the Juul Liti-gation and settlement and this money will be used for such proposed enhancements, including the detectors. With the data indicating steady increase in tobacco and drug use, the School District recognizes the need for intervention, officials said.

The substance abuse intervention will entail:

– Community agency support/partnership

– Social media campaign

– District infrastructure considerations for vape detectors

– Consideration of the expansion of OPENGATE

– Saturday school and extended day school

– Student-led clubs

– Anti-drug curriculum

– Tiered consequences

The total cost for the first year using the settlement money is $681,550.

The School Board approved participation in the litigation which alleged a company role in youth vaping on April 20, 2020. The litigation had cited harms as significant and ongoing disruption, significant resource diversion to anti vaping, truancy and absenteeism and significant cost increases.

Six states, including Florida, and the District of Columbia were awarded a collective $462 million.

The school district has already received two payments, the first in 2023 – $1,199,846.95, and the second in February of this year for $242,486.49. The third payment will be made in December 2024 for $242,486.49, the fourth payment in December 2025 for $268,029.83 and the fifth payment will be made in December 2026 for $268,029.83.

Constituent Services and Student Discipline Director Dr. Ron Iasussi said the social media campaign includes participation with local law enforcement to present the anti-vaping philosophy to the community through billboards in each zone.

The expansion of OPENGATE in-cludes setting the detection system at a standard where vaping devices would show up.

Extended school days and Saturday school would be part of the tiered consequences in an effort to engage parents and students to educate the family on the effects of substance abuse. Iasussi said the extended day program would consist of six 75-minute sessions to address alcohol abuse, substance abuse and coping skills and more.

“Each session would have a different theme to it,” he said, adding that they are providing a Saturday option for students and parents who cannot attend during the week.

If attended, it would be in lieu of suspension.

The proposal also includes mental health support, which would provide different levels of support for students specifically indicated with a higher use of vaping and drug use. They would help families connect with resources to better understand the challenges they are facing, officials said.

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