In an effort to reduce the number of disruptions to the school day resulting from fire alarms, Leesville Road High School has closed half of the bathrooms in the school and stationed teachers outside the remaining ones.
Over the summer, before the 2022-2023 school year, a new fire alarm system was installed in all classrooms and bathrooms at Leesville. The new system is extremely sensitive to particulates emitted from vapes and other smoking devices commonly used in the bathrooms at Leesville.
As a result, there has been an average of 30 false fire alarm set-offs during the school day since the beginning of the year. All of these alarms have been caused by students vaping in the bathrooms.
The fire alarms have been set off during all four periods of the school day, sometimes more than once a day.
“Usually if I am focusing and the fire alarm goes off, I lose that focus,” said Katie Carrigan, sophomore. “Then, I am unable to do as well, and I am unable to exceed…in class.”
“It’s also very frustrating for the teacher, you can tell they are just kind of…done,” said Carrigan.
Teachers now spend ten-minute shifts outside of the bathrooms during their planning periods every day. The presence of the teachers outside of the bathrooms is meant to dissuade students from vaping and make it easier to track down possible suspects in the event that the fire alarm is set off.
“We as teachers often have duties during our planning period before and after school, so it’s definitely part of our job and our responsibilities,” said Benjamin Gordeau, teacher at Leesville.
On the other hand, the decision to close half of the bathrooms in the school is meant to “reduce the number of spaces that have to be monitored”, according to a message put out on the school website by Leesville head principal, Ian Soloman.
“Obviously, something needs to be done as [the fire alarms] are a disruption to the school day,” said Gordeau. “We’re at a point where we have to have a solution, and we’re at the end of the school year, so we have to make sure nothing is disrupting class. Then, I think this will probably be revisited over the summer.”
Hi, I’m Clara. I’m a co-founder of Leesville’s Earth & Sustainability Club and a Varsity member of the Track & Field team.