Watertown to combat student vaping

Watertown High School. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — During the Watertown City School District’s Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening, Superintendent Patricia B. LaBarr explained to those gathered that there has been a noticeable problem with students vaping in school restrooms. To combat this, the district is tightening things up when it comes to some restroom access.

While mostly relevant to the high school, Mrs. LaBarr said she has been working with administrators at both the high school and middle school, along with school resource officers.

“We have some serious concerns with the amount of vaping that’s been going on at the high school and as a result of that, some of the activities that are happening within the bathrooms,” Mrs. LaBarr said. “Mainly it was a high school conversation, but we want to make sure if anything is going on in the middle school that we address that as well.”

Mrs. LaBarr said students are going to the bathrooms to vape — sometimes up to four students go into one stall and shut the door, leaving other students that need to use the restroom unable to do so.

She said students have been vaping in restrooms during the transitional moments in between classes, which are four minutes at the high school, as well as time before and after school. In response, bathrooms will not be open prior to the start of school at the high school.

“When school opens, the bathrooms will open and that’s just part of life right now, and when school ends, at the end of the day, most of the bathrooms will be closed with the exception of on the main floor — the second floor in the main entryway,” Mrs. LaBarr said. “Those bathrooms will always be available and they will always be open.”

Some of the other restrooms off the main areas will be open once school starts, and the district will be monitoring the best it can and doing regular cleanings of the bathrooms, Mrs. LaBarr said.

As soon as the district gets some additional protocols in place, the high school principal will be sending out a ParentSquare message to all parents of high school students to let them know of the restroom changes being implemented.

“At the end of the day, these changes are in the best interest of all students so that our students that need to use the restrooms have access to the bathrooms when they need them,” Mrs. LaBarr said. “I’m happy to take any phone calls if parents have questions or need any further explanation.”

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