STORY BY ADAM ALAM
The fire alarm that caused a school evacuation last Friday was triggered by smoke detectors in the mobile bathrooms.
School administrator Matt MacKay said last week’s alarm was not a drill. He said it was likely caused by a student vaping in the bathroom.
“It smelled like that to us. But we just can’t say, ‘oh yeah, that’s what it was for sure,’” he said.
Vaping and other tobacco products are not allowed on campus.
“Anytime I’ve found vaping materials on a student, we usually contact the parent right away and confiscate it,” MacKay said.
The consequences for smoking, tobacco, or vaping use on campus include a warning and confiscation on first offense. A second offense results in a two- to three-day detention. And a third offense includes a two-day suspension.
There aren’t any video cameras focused on the mobile bathrooms, so MacKay said it’s hard to know which students triggered the alarm. But, he said the administration is thinking about installing cameras outside the mobile bathrooms to discourage more situations like this.
“That’s the plan, to add additional cameras,” he said. “The cameras outside do monitor that area, but it is quite the distance and makes it a little difficult to see.”
The alarm sounded as students were leaving fifth period. The timing of the alarm caused some confusion for students unsure whether to return to fifth period or to go on to their sixth period teachers. When the alarms sound between classes, students should return to their fifth period class’ evacuation area.
Despite the confusion, MacKay said the school followed the evacuation procedure very well.
“It happened during what could have been a difficult time,” he said. “The teachers, the counselors, the support staff, everyone did an amazing job.”