Protecting Student Health and Wellbeing
Schools in Kentucky have a vaping problem.
According to a 2021 report prepared by Kentucky Incentives for Prevention, vaping rates among Kentucky students are higher than the national average, with 24% of seniors and 17% of sophomores reporting daily use.
So, when Metcalfe County Schools’ Safety Administrator and Safe Schools Coordinator, Chris Huffman, learned about the HALO Smart Sensor, which integrates with Gallagher’s Command Centre to detect vaping on school grounds, it immediately caught his attention.
“It looks like a smoke detector,” says Chris. “It’s designed to detect factors affecting air quality, like carbon monoxide and particulate matter, and it’ll also detect vaping aerosols and send instant notifications to administrators with a specific location.”
With Gallagher’s Command Centre already securing the K-12 school district, protecting people, property, and assets, Chris saw the opportunity to also tackle their high school’s vaping problem. He reached out to Cleve Cary from Inspired Technologies, a Gallagher-certified Channel Partner, to install HALO Smart Sensors in every classroom and bathroom. The results were immediate, and surprising.
A dramatic reduction in vaping
HALO Smart Sensors were installed at the start of the 2022-2023 school year and revealed a much bigger vaping problem than Metcalfe County Schools realized.
"Right away, we had numerous notifications alerting administrators of students vaping in the restroom,” Chris says. “Sometimes, you don't know you have a problem until you start looking for it, and we found that, actually, there's a lot more vaping going on than we originally thought.”
Once the school realized the scope of the problem, the HALO integration with Command Centre helped them address it.
“If a student is vaping in the restroom farthest away from the office, they may be gone before administration can get there,” Chris explains. “So, we integrated a camera system with the sensors, and now, when a vape alarm goes off, it triggers the camera to automatically record for 10 minutes so we know who’s leaving the bathroom and can have a conversation with them to work through it.”
This visibility has helped Metcalfe’s teachers and administrators significantly reduce the instances of vaping throughout their schools, an achievement Chris credits to the HALO Smart Sensor and their ability to track alarms in Command Centre. “We haven’t even finished the school year yet, but it’s already helped us tremendously” he says. “The overwhelming majority of students are happy to have vape-free bathrooms, and parents and teachers are happy, too.”
Unexpected health benefits
But vaping detection hasn’t been the only HALO feature for promoting student health that Metcalfe County Schools has benefitted from.
“A while back, we got a notification about the air quality in some of our rooms,” says Chris. With the ability to detect changes in temperature, humidity, and volatile organic compounds in addition to vaping aerosols, the HALO integration was able to notify administrators of a pending HVAC malfunction before it became a bigger problem.
“We brought in an HVAC team and found we were having air quality issues due to an improperly functioning air unit,” he elaborates. “Obviously, poor air quality can exacerbate health problems and we don’t want any of our students getting sick on our watch, so having early detection was a massive benefit.”
And with asthma and allergies topping the Kentucky Department of Education’s 2021-2022 list of top chronic health conditions among students, the HALO integration has helped Metcalfe County Schools maintain health standards and improve air quality to create healthier classrooms.