Caldwell schools crack down on vaping

Caldwell County Schools posted this sign at all Caldwell County middle and high schools.

Students who smoke an e-cigarette on campus will be sent home and suspended in Caldwell County.

Caldwell County Schools announced stricter discipline for students caught with any vaping devices this week.

If high school grade students are caught vaping on campus or during a school-sponsored event or activity, the students will be given an automatic out-of-school suspension on the first offense, according to a press release from Caldwell County Schools. They will receive a one-day suspension for the first offense, three days for the second offense, five days for the third offense and seven days for the fourth offense.

Caldwell County Schools’ middle school grade students will receive a one day in-school-suspension on the first offense, according to the release. From there, one day out-of-school suspension for the second offense, three days for the third offense, five days for the fourth offense and seven days for the fifth offense.

During each of these disciplinary actions, the e-cigarette or the popular Juul will be confiscated, disposed of and not returned to the student, according to the release. On the second and subsequent offenses, students will be required to complete an educational program, which is an online tobacco prevention and cessation curriculum for middle and high school students.

Comparatively, Newton-Conover City Schools requires high school students to take a one-day to three-day in-school-suspension for possession of e-cigarettes and vaping devices on the first offense, according to the district’s board policy. Out-of-school suspension is given on the second offense.

Catawba County Schools implemented stricter discipline on students for vaping this school year, increasing the offense from a class one violation to a class two violation. A class two violation means students are given either in-school-suspension or out-of-school suspension on the first offense, according to the Catawba County Schools website.

After four decades of national attention that successfully reduced the appeal and usage of combustible cigarettes, the introduction of the Juul electronic cigarette in 2015 began to reverse the efforts of progress and in 2017, 2.1 million middle and high school students were e-cigarette users making it the most frequently used tobacco product among adolescents, the Caldwell County Schools release said.

“E-cigarettes have skyrocketed in popularity,” Donald Phipps, superintendent of Caldwell County Schools, said. “Health officials are now calling it an epidemic, and we are asking parents and the community to help the school system educate our youth on the ill effects of using any tobacco product, especially e-cigarettes or Juuls. Since these small devices are harder to detect, yet pose serious health risks, we have put forth a new effort to inform the public that tobacco products are prohibited on school campuses – including e-cigarettes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 94 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping, which have been reported in 14 states as of Aug. 17 and linked to e-cigarette vaping.

 “I encourage our parents to have open communication with their teens,” Phipps said. “The schools will provide educational strategies throughout the year to make students aware of the concerns that have surfaced over vaping. Prevention is a lot easier than treatment later on.”

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