SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In just two years, teen vaping has doubled. It’s so common it’s now called an epidemic. People of all ages are getting sick. The CDC now reports more than 800 cases of lung illness related to vaping. Six of those cases are in South Dakota. Local school districts are responding.
Where there’s smoke, or in this case vapor…
“Sometimes we’ll find Juul sticks,” Dan Conrad, principal of Washington High School, said.
“We have enough indicators to say, gosh, it’s starting to permeate through to a lot of different kids,” Conrad said.
A pile of little black plastic rectangles is just some of what Conrad is finding at Washington High School.
“Is it a flash drive or a Juul stick?” Conrad said.
That’s one of the questions the school district hopes to answer.
“We want to meet families wherever they’re at in that process and open the door for a conversation,” Molly Satter, health services coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District, said.
That’s why the district is having a town hall for parents and students to to discuss vaping. A team of specialists, and educators, including Conrad, will be at the town hall. The goal is to give parents and students information and spread awareness about teen vaping.
“Preventative ideas and also for students who have tried it or are using it and want ideas on how to quit,” Satter said.
It’s a timely topic. In his more than 20 years as an educator, Conrad says this is just the latest trend in nicotine.
“When I first started, I would see a tobacco product. We might see a cigarette, a pack of cigarettes, some lighters,” Conrad said.
That had started to decrease.
“And then vape products came on,” Conrad said.
Conrad hopes this is just one tool to extinguish a growing concern in our schools.
“How do we help ensure a healthy, safe place for kids to get an education?” Conrad said.
The town hall meeting for parents and students is Monday night, September 30. Speakers include an Avera pulmonologist and Conrad. It’s from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. at the Instructional Planning Center.
The Harrisburg School District is also working to raise awareness. The district will hold an all staff presentation on vaping, along with a community forum on October 29. Harrisburg will have presentations for high school and middle school students on the 30th.