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Maple schools add metal detector wands to detect vaping devices

The tools could be used on an individual basis at Northwestern middle and high schools, school officials said.

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A woman exhales vapor in Superior.
Jed Carlson / 2019 File / Superior Telegram
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MAPLE — The School District of Maple will add a new tool — metal detector wands — to crack down on student vaping in school. The district will purchase one wand each for Northwestern High School and Northwestern Middle School.

NHS Principal Mark Carlson said the metal detector wands are noninvasive and would be used on an individual basis as needed to detect vaping devices students may have on them.

“These devices are so easy to conceal, so one of the thoughts we had was, well ... if they have enough metal components … would a wand work?” Carlson said.

The devices will cost the district between $50 and $100 each.

“It’s just a strategy, potentially, to use to see if they can arrest this issue,” Sara Croney, district administrator, told the Maple School Board June 13.

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Carlson said the wands would be available to use in other situations, such as to detect a metal weapon.

According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarettes were the most common tobacco product currently used among middle and high school students, with more than 2 million young people reporting that they used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days.

Vaping among studentsin the district increased during the 2021-2022 school year, possibly tied to two years of pandemic protocol, Carlson said.

“I think COVID and the isolation that went along with that, and the kids being left alone for longer periods of time than maybe in the past, I think really contributed to the rise that we’re seeing this year,” Carlson said.

There has also been an increase in students reporting vaping incidents at school, as well.

“I’m sure that we’re not any worse off than anybody else is. It’s an issue that everybody’s dealing with, and from the principals I’ve talked to, everyone is choosing to deal with it in a different way,” Carlson said.

Vaping devices fall under the school's tobacco policy, Carlson said. Students found using or possessing a vaping device are suspended from school with additional consequences possible depending on a variety of factors.

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Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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