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LCPS Combats Vaping Through Multitiered Efforts

 

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) takes the issue of vaping very seriously and is applying significant resources to educate students and parents about the health risks involved with vaping. In addition to enforcing prohibitions against possessing or using vaping devices on any school property, LCPS emphasizes prevention and intervention.

 

Through a multitiered approach beginning as early as the sixth grade focused on discouraging students from starting to use e-cigarettes and other harmful substances, and supporting students in managing substance use issues when they are discovered, LCPS believes prevention and curtailment are the most effective means of combatting the problem.

 

“We are facing a vaping epidemic, especially among youth, and we are just now learning of the health consequences, which include respiratory illnesses and possible death,” said Jennifer Wall, LCPS supervisor, student assistance services. “We want to focus our early prevention and intervention efforts, which will result in the most successful outcomes. Our student assistance specialists are essential mental health professionals who provide various supports to students and their families.”

 

In a recent letter to parents, LCPS Student Health Supervisor Jeannie Kloman noted the pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette use among adolescents and young adults.

 

The illness is characterized by “respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.”  Symptoms often worsen, resulting in the hospitalization of the patient. 

 

Studies by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that the likelihood of teenage e-cigarette use starts in middle school and increases through high school.  In eighth grade, 9.5 percent of students nationwide used e-cigarettes. By 12th grade, that percentage jumps to 16.2 percent.  Boys are twice as likely as girls to use e-cigarettes.

 

 Among LCPS’ ongoing anti-vaping efforts are:

  • LCPS has eight Student Assistance Specialists who provide substance use prevention and intervention services across a multi-tiered system of support, including presentations to students in the sixth, eighth and 10th grades that address vaping and all misused substances, individual and group support.
  • Student Assistance Specialists also facilitate the three-day Substance Use Education Class for students who violate Policy 8240 or for students who wish to participate voluntarily.
  • Student Assistance Specialists also provide presentations to staff, parents and the community regarding substance-use trends.
  • Information incorporated into the Partners for Safe Teen Driving presentation, in coordination with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. This is a mandatory presentation for every student who wants to drive and their parents.
  • Presentations and preventive information also is included as part of ninth- and 10th-grade health classes.
  • LCPS maintains a webpage (https://www.lcps.org/Page/201538) with a variety of information intended to encourage prevention of use.
  • The LCPS policy prohibiting possession and use of vaping devices on school property is widely communicated to students and parents as part of the Student Rights and Responsibility document that must be acknowledged at that start of each year.

A variety of resources are available for parents and students through LCPS’ Student Assistance Services office, including through this webpage https://www.lcps.org/Page/201538.

 

The prevention initiative also is undertaken with community partners.

 

LCPS is part of the Prevention Alliance of Loudoun, which includes the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Loudoun County Crisis Intervention Team, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the Loudoun County Community Service Board and Loudoun County Government. Throughout the school year, the Alliance will be presenting a free Parent Seminar Series on subjects such as substance use, bullying, vaping and JUULing, Internet safety, teen trafficking and dating violence and healthy relationships.

 

The Vaping and JUULing seminar will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 7th, at the Sterling Library. (The Sterling Library is located at 22330 S. Sterling Blvd. Suite A117, Sterling, VA 20164.)

 

School Board policy (Policy 8240), which includes vaping, was updated in October 2017. The updated policy emphasizes prevention rather than traditional discipline. The first violation involving use or possession of tobacco products and/or electronic cigarettes (vape pens) results in assignment to in-school restriction for three days. During this time the student receives the tobacco products education program. A second violation results in assignment to in-school restriction for three days and referral to the Student Assistance Specialist that will assess and provide school-based support. A third violation results in the student being suspended for three days out of school and an additional three days assigned to the LCPS Substance Use Education Class.

 

 

10/02/19/wbb