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TUSD takes on vaping with new sensors, accountability system
In an effort to deter tobacco use, the Turlock Unified School District plans to install vape sensors in every single student restroom at all junior high and high school campuses (Photo contributed).

Turlock Unified School District has been awarded $189,275 from the Department of Justice Tobacco Grant Program to buy and install vape sensors for secondary campuses. Additionally, the District has implemented a new accountability system to deter tobacco use and possession by students.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Barney Gordon, the District has considered the installation of vape sensors for years due to increased cases on campuses.

“The District has been piloting vape sensors in a few restrooms for the past year and they have shown to be effective tools to combat the issue,” Gordon explained. “Because data drops are required for each sensor, which adds significantly to the cost, we identified potential grants and applied as soon as the grant window opened.”

Since 2017, the grant has been funded by sales taxes from cigarettes and other tobacco products. The Attorney General’s office has handed out $170 million over the course of the past five years.

With the awarded funds, the District plans to install the vape sensors in every single student restroom at the secondary level, which includes Turlock High, Pitman High, Roselawn Continuation High, Dutcher Middle and Turlock Junior High.

“Vaping on campus has become a significant issue throughout the state and nation,” Gordon said. “Vape sensors serve as a one of many tools we are implementing to combat this issue.”

According to the Centers of Disease Control, electronic cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco use amongst today’s youth. This year, the organization announced that about 1 out of every 30 middle school students (3.3%) use electronic cigarettes. The number sees a significant rise amongst high schoolers, as the CDC estimates that 1 of every 7 high school students (14.1%) use e-cigarettes.

Director of Communication, Family Engagement & Outreach Marie Russell added that efforts to decrease vaping on campus will be further supported by restorative practices, education and parent partnerships as outlined on the Student Accountability chart.

Under Education Code 48900H, the first time a student is caught using or possessing tobacco on campus they will have their parents notified and will receive one to three days of suspension along with a referral to substance education. Second time offenders will also have parents notified, along with being handed three to five suspension days as well as having to attend a restorative conference. A third incident will result in five days suspension and another restorative conference. The District also notes that vaping THC oils or similar substances may result in criminal charges.

More information on TUSD’s response to tobacco and other substance abuse incidents can be found at