EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – An ongoing problems in the majority of schools in America, Vape devices have become prominent in Gilmer’s schools as well as this year saw 47 incidents involving vapes in Gilmer High School, 51 incidents involving vapes occurred at the middle school level, and even 4 vape incidents occurred in elementary schools in Gilmer County.
Of the 47 incidents at Gilmer High School, six were drug related according to Assistant Superintendent Dana Berry as he presented the proposal with statistics. Gilmer Schools has recently run trials with a device and the current proposal is to purchase and use Verkada devices that detect certain vapors in school bathrooms.
In addition to the use of substances in the schools, there is also an issue that Berry pointed out as students try to flush their vapes in order to avoid getting caught. This clogs the piping and sewer systems causing damage and requiring the schools to hire a team to come and repair the piping and remove the devices.
According to Berry, the detectors can not only detect the vapors, but can sample them to determine what the vapor includes and can send multiple text notifications to administrators as soon as the vapor is detected. At that point the device also takes photos outside of the restrooms of those who entered soon before the vapors were detected so that administrators can see the one or number of people who entered before the detection and can handle these cases.
The Verkada sensors can also offer administrators a percentage of confidence that the system has in the substances make-up. Berry stated in the meeting that they have actually tested a number of devices, but Verkada’s sensors actually had the number of incidents go down as students stopped going into that bathroom to use the vapes. He later said that implementation into all the bathrooms would push schools towards prevention instead of reaction to students using them as the word of the devices spreads.
The proposal could also extend this system beyond the restrooms with a similar system for incorporation into the school systems buses.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley said that vape devices have become a more prevalent major issue that principals deal with and he went so far as to call vape usage a “clear and present danger” in the school system. A sentiment that was touched on by Berry as well as he noted that some of the vape devices contained substances with THC so concentrated that a student could easily overdose on the substance.
Another concept that Dr. Ridley addressed was that the 47 incidents in the high school and the 51 incidents in the middle school are just the incidents that administrators caught. An issue he said the sensors could address as the initially increase the number of incidents as the sensor devices constantly monitor, but then ultimately lower the incidents as those using the vapes have fewer and fewer locations to use them.
The proposal includes a three year leasing to buyout at the end. Even if the board decides not to keep utilizing the Verkada services for updates, Berry said that at the end of the three years, Gilmer Schools will own the devices.