Advertisement

Winnipeg high school reinstalls washroom door after removal sparks backlash amid indoor vaping

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg high school reinstalls washroom door after removal sparks backlash amid indoor vaping'
Winnipeg high school reinstalls washroom door after removal sparks backlash amid indoor vaping
A Winnipeg high school’s recent handling of indoor vaping is raising concerns over how administrators can and should curb vaping in youth. Rosanna Hempel reports – Jan 20, 2023

A Winnipeg high school’s recent handling of indoor vaping is raising concerns over how administrators can and should curb vaping in youth.

St. James Collegiate navigated backlash over a door it removed on one of the girls’ bathrooms. Parents and students voiced privacy concerns after discovering the door was gone on Thursday.

It was meant to be a temporary solution, but after considering both negative and positive feedback, St. James-Assiniboia School Division told Global News that the door has since been put back.

“The recent growth of vaping on school property and in enclosed public spaces continues to violate the division’s smoke-free policy, a city bylaw and provincial legislation,” a spokesperson for the division said in an emailed statement Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

“It can also be a safety concern and nuisance to other students using the facilities for their intended purpose.”

Vaping inside schools isn’t new, Seven Oaks School Division superintendent Brian O’Leary said Friday, but it’s a growing problem they’re also once again having to navigate coming out of the pandemic.

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.
Receive the latest medical news and health information delivered to you every Sunday.

Get weekly health news

Receive the latest medical news and health information delivered to you every Sunday.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

“Things that weren’t an issue with kids working remotely, or high school kids for a significant period of time were coming every second day, are now a little more prominent,” O’Leary said.

“We’re having a fairly good winter, so it hasn’t been an acute problem, but we do get kids sometimes congregating in a washroom.”

Indoor vaping is concerning beyond just negative health effects, he said. Vaping can lead to nicotine addiction along with altering brain development in teens, Health Canada says.

“Usually, if schools are acting on that, they’re acting in the interests of kids who’ve come forward and said, ‘I feel uncomfortable going in there with, you know, 10 kids gathered vaping,” O’Leary said.

Solutions generally focus on educating and providing supports to students along with making vaping harder to do, before resorting to harsher consequences, he said.

“We’d have conversations with parents and work together with parents. There may be some taken-away privileges, even suspending a student from attending school to make a point.”

Story continues below advertisement

Meanwhile, St. James-Assiniboia School Division will continue educating students on the dangers of vaping, while making sure the washrooms are available to everyone, the spokesperson said.

The division’s board of trustees also provided Global News with a statement.

“It is always a challenge to balance the concerns and perspectives of different parties,” board chair Cheryl Smukowich said.

“We understand that substance use is a complicated issue. For that reason, we want to remind families that the division does have a variety of supports and services available for those wishing to quit smoking or vaping, and we encourage students to talk to their school guidance counsellors about the help that is available for this and other concerns.”

“In spite of these supports, we understand and respect that some students may continue smoking or vaping. We ask that they do so outside of school property, in alignment with Division policy, and out of respect for the students and staff that also need to make use of school facilities.”

Click to play video: 'New alcohol guidelines for Canada & support for quitting smoking'
New alcohol guidelines for Canada & support for quitting smoking

 

Advertisement

Sponsored content

AdChoices