With spring break in the rear-view mirror, a committee designed to put a dent in vaping on Hall County school campuses is working to get procedures and programs in place before summer.
Kevin Bales, the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for the Hall County School District, said in a recent interview committee members have a window of about 30 to 45 days to put procedures and plans into place ahead of the summer break for students.
Bales said the last time the committee met - on March, 28, 2019 - members discussed a three-tiered approach to battle what has become an epidemic in many schools.
"The first phase of this will look a lot like student and parent prevention information, some forums, some parental support materials," Bales said. "The second tier is really how we plan to infuse the anti-vaping message as part of our content and curriculum."
Bales said the county's lead health teacher will work with teachers at each school to make sure anti-vaping measures are taught in health classes. He said it is possible the message may also be included in other class curriculum.
The third step is to determine consequences for student violators.
"[We're building out] a module course for any student that's found to have a first offense with vaping that they would complete as part of their in-school suspension assignment," Bales said.
He noted that district officials have been working with attorneys to make sure the new vaping guidelines in the Hall County Schools' Code of Conduct are clear for students and parents well before the new school year begins. The new guidelines have not yet been finalized.
Bales said time is of the essence when it comes to putting the game plan into place.
"We're trying to do the work now because as we hit the next school year, it's all about being well-positioned," Bales said.
As the committee has been working and school leaders have begun cracking down on the practice of vaping, students seem to be getting the message that the school district is serious about eradicating the practice.
"There really is no place for vape in our public schools," said Bales. "We recognize that there may very well be usage among adults. We understand that it was originated to help support adults that are trying to deal with nicotine addictions - and we may have some students that are fighting those same addictions - but for the most part, I think our students are starting to hear that we do have plans to aggressively come after vaping."
Bales said a third ad hoc committee meeting will be held before the summer break.