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Prairie Grove School District 46 adding sensors to detect bullying, vaping

November 23, 2018

In an effort to combat bullying and vaping, Prairie Grove School District 46 will install special sensors to alert staff about possible infractions.

The district received a school safety grant from Soter Technologies to help deter on-campus bullying and e-cigarette use, chief school business official Kevin Werners said.

Because school bullying and vaping has reached “epidemic status in virtually every middle school and high school in America,” Werner said, the district applied for the grant to obtain and install FlySense detectors at a discounted price.

New York-based Soter Technologies claims that its FlySense sensors are “monitoring 24/7 with zero delays of event notifications​,” according to the company’s website.

“We are committed to ongoing communication to hopefully allow children to make better choices,” Werner said. “These devices are another tool in our tool chest.”

District 46 plans to install them in select restrooms and locker rooms, where cameras and microphones are not permitted.

These sensors are capable of detecting vaping, smoking and elevated sound typically associated with bullying or fighting.

“They do not record any voices,” Werner said, adding that the devices will not compromise student privacy. “It’s to keep the school campus safe.”

When a sensor detects chemicals from vaping or smoking, or decibel-level anomalies, it sends a notification to one or more school officials’ computers or smartphones. Ten detectors will be installed at the district’s middle school, 3223 Route 176, Crystal Lake.

“We just placed our purchase order, so they’ll be installed upon receipt during this current fiscal year,” Werner said. “The grant was coupled with a negotiated product discount, so we’ll receive them at a 50 percent-off list price. ... The total cost will be less than $5,000 for all 10.”

Werner said other schools have had success with such devices.

“There are other schools that are using this technology. FlySense has been on national programs with their technology,” he said. “Schools in a number of states have already implemented this, and the feedback has been very promising.”

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