Nebraska school district to battle vaping with random nicotine tests

Nebraska school district to battle vaping with random nicotine tests
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As a means of combating the vaping epidemic among teens, a Nebraska school district is randomly testing students for nicotine.

Under the policy, which the school board voted to approve last week, Fairbury Public Schools will force students in grades 7 through 12 to submit to random nicotine testing — if they don’t they aren’t allowed to take part in certain extracurricular activities, The Washington Post reports.

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“Vaping and smoking in our view is reaching epidemic proportions,” Fairbury Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Grizzle told the Lincoln Journal Star. “It’s just a way we can deter kids from potentially being addicted to nicotine.”

One school in the district, Fairbury Junior-Senior High School, has 60 percent of its roughly 387 students taking part in after-school activities. It’s been randomly testing students for drugs for two years, with students and parents consenting to the monthly tests that get assigned to 10 percent of the extracurricular-participating student body, the Post reports.

Not many students test positive for drug use, but those who do are suspended from school activities for 10 days and forced to attend educational seminars. If a student fails three times, they can’t do any extracurriculars for a year, the outlet reports.

“We want it to be a deterrent,” Grizzle told the Journal Star. “Kids are under a whole lot of pressure to experiment with drugs or nicotine.”

The district is also considering installing WiFi-enabled vape detectors, which typically go in bathrooms and detect e-cigarette vapor. Other schools have taken additional measures, including tearing down bathroom doors, according to the Post.

Between 2017 and 2018 alone, the FDA reports that vaping increased “alarmingly” among middle and high school students. More than 3.6 million kids used e-cigarettes in 2018, including 20.8 percent of high school students and 4.9 percent of middle schoolers.