School security, vaping on State Board of Education’s agenda

As a new school year starts across Kansas, the State Board of Education on Tuesday will receive updates on school security and student use of e-cigarettes. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and background materials.

E-cigarette use increased 48 percent among middle school students and 78 percent among high school students between 2017 and 2018, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students across the United States used e-cigarettes in 2018. These increases have led the Surgeon General and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to label this a public health epidemic.

The 2017 Kansas Youth Risk Factors Survey shows one in three (or 34.8 percent) Kansas high school students have tried e-cigarettes and one in 10 (or 10.6 percent) were current users.

A state Task Force on Vaping/E-Cigarettes in Schools has been working on distributing education and awareness resources and materials to school districts in time for the start of the new school year. Other tasks include developing state policy; providing for regulation and enforcement of vaping devices; adding vaping to the state health standards; expanding education and awareness; and development of the central web-based information hub.

Task Force members have noted that the beginning of the school year is a hectic time for boards and administrators but reiterated the urgency of the public health impacts of the practice. KASB can advise boards and districts who wish to adopt or strengthen anti-smoking and anti-vaping policies.

During its monthly meeting, the State Board also will receive an update on school safety and security, including projects funded through state grants, crisis drills and Suspicious Activity Reporting.

In other business the board will consider proposals by schools in Geary County USD 475 and Southern Lyon County USD 252 for school redesign, which will “launch” in the 2019-20 school year.

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