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Chandler middle school removes ineffective bathroom vape sensors

(YouTube Screenshot/Soter Technologies)

PHOENIX — A Chandler middle school installed sensors to detect students vaping in bathrooms earlier this year, but the devices have been taken down because they did not work properly.

The sensors were installed at Kyrene Aprende Middle School in January and removed in June.

“Sometimes they would go off and there was no student in the bathroom at all or sometimes there would be a report of a vaping incident that wasn’t picked up by the devices,” said Erin Helm, director of communications and marketing for the Kyrene School District.

When the sensors worked properly, they would send a text alert to school administrators. If they couldn’t get to the bathroom right away, there were cameras set up outside the bathrooms to monitor who went in and out during the time the sensors sent the alert.

Helm said the sensors were returned and the district got a full refund from the vendor.

“We are still very interested in vape-sensing technology in Kyrene,” Helm said. “So if that technology is refined in the future, Kyrene would absolutely consider those sensors again at a later date.”

The sensors were installed as a pilot program for the district after Aprende Middle School administrators expressed they felt they were getting a higher number of reports of students using e-cigarettes.

Helm said other middle schools in the district are also seeing an increase in students vaping.

“It’s not just a high school problem anymore,” she said.

More than 1,000 cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported in the U.S., according to health officials, including seven in Arizona in the past month.

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