This week, Dr. Colleen Iannitti, the principal at Jupiter High School in Palm Beach County, Florida, broke the news to students that there will be no more bathroom breaks due to vaping. Under the new policy, they will have to use the restroom in the six minutes allotted in between periods. There will be no bathroom breaks during class, save for emergencies, in which case the student will be escorted by an assistant principal.
Widespread e-cigarette use, Iannitti insisted, left the school no choice.
“Since last year, we’ve had a huge problem, and the problem is with vaping in the bathrooms,” Iannitti told students during the school’s daily video announcements for Thursday. “Many of you are just going to the bathrooms so you can meet up with your friends and smoke and vape and do all those kinds of things that you shouldn’t be doing in the bathroom.”
Iannitti claimed that students have been rushed to the emergency room “on a weekly basis” due to “something that they smoked in one of our bathrooms.”
“Every single day, since school started, we have found a student, or multiple students, in our bathrooms who have been vaping,” she said.
“It is a huge problem,” Iannitti added. “That is the reason why we’re asking teachers not to allow you out of class like they normally would because when you’re left out of class and just calling your friends and going to the bathrooms and vaping, kids are getting seriously ill from it.”
New Policy Echoes Vaping Concerns in the U.S.
Adults across America—from lawmakers to parents, administrators to doctors—have sounded the alarm over e-cigarette use among youth, particularly amid a surge in hospitalizations and deaths related to vaping. But while those concerns are well-founded, the new policy at Jupiter High seems…a bit extreme. It takes only a moment of consideration to see how the restrictive rules are problematic—whether for students with disabilities, pregnant students, or transgender students for whom trips to the bathroom may already bring about stress.
Iannitti said she has heard from many parents who are concerned about the vaping problem, but local news channel WPTV reports that some parents of Jupiter students also harbor some misgivings with the new rules.
“I understand the concern from the school’s point of view, I just don’t know if it’s the most efficient or effective privacy matter as far as having someone follow you around when you use the restroom,” said parent Jeff Glassgold, as quoted by WPTV.
Iannitti indicated that the bathroom restrictions could be loosened, telling students in the video that they will be expected to follow the new rules “for the next few weeks and see if we can get students to stop vaping in our bathroom[s].”