Baldwin County Schools fear fentanyl could find its way onto campuses through vape pens

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 4:24 PM CST
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FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) - Concerns over the number of students vaping has prompted an urgent warning to parents from Baldwin County Schools. This comes on the heels of a similar warning last month from Daphne Police. THC and synthetic marijuana in vape pens is already a problem and now there are concerns fentanyl may be next.

School system officials called a press conference Monday, November 28, 2022 to try and get a message to parents. Vaping in schools is at an all-time high and often, those vaping aren’t aware of what may be in the vape pens. THC and synthetic marijuana are not uncommon but there is a much greater concern that fentanyl could also find its way into the vape pens and into the hands of unsuspecting students.

Baldwin County Schools officials appeal to parents to speak with their children about dangers...
Baldwin County Schools officials appeal to parents to speak with their children about dangers related to underage vaping(Hal Scheurich)

“The device I’m talking about, it’s a DAP pen,” Fairhope High School principal, Jon Cardwell said as he held up a device confiscated from his campus. “It’s an electronic cigarette and it has the marijuana content on it but what worries me more than anything I fentanyl is creeping into our communities as well and we’re not sure what is going to be in that pen and the people they’re trusting to give them the pens. That’s a fear that I have as an administrator and I did not feel comfortable nit coming to parents.”

Cardwell spearheaded this awareness campaign and is asking that parents learn the dangers vaping poses to their children. Just a month prior, Daphne Police made a similar appeal through both social and traditional media. Fox 10 News showed you the astonishing number of vape and DAP pens that were confiscated in their schools over the last year.

“They’re small. They’re easy to hide. A lot of times adults really don’t know what these devices are,” Capt. Brian Gulsby with Daphne Police said at the time. “There are some that are disguised to look like USB drives and the kids are tricky with it.”

Four arrests have been made in Daphne schools already this year for vapes with THC in them. With fentanyl causing many overdose deaths, the concern is so great that high schools across the county keep Narcan on hand and have trained first response teams to administer it if needed.

“Something at first that you can do first-hand, that you can administer before the ambulance arrives is a really good thing for our students. We hate to ever have to use it but if we did, at least we have it available,” explained Health Services Coordinator for Baldwin County Schools, Ashley Barnhill.

So far, there have been no reports of any vape-related overdoses in Baldwin County schools and the goal is to keep it that way.

“I lost my youngest…son to a tragic automobile accident at the age of seventeen. I don’t want any parent…to ever suffer that pain of losing a child,” Baldwin County School superintendent, Eddie Tyler slowly said as he struggled to hold back tears.

Fairhope and other schools have vape detectors installed around campus to alert staff if a vape pen is being used. Fairhope students caught vaping can face a variety of disciplinary actions, from a combination of school suspension to municipal tickets and fines, where a parent is required to accompany their student to city court and appear before a judge.

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