#271 Safety & Health


Coeur d'Alene Public Schools — January 14, 2019


  • Vaping worsens in our schools
  • Sources of Strength training
  • Practicing lockdowns
  • Safety posters in schools
  • School Resource Officer Lee Morgan
  • How screen time affects developing brains
  • School Nurse Vicki Trefz
  • Smart phone at what age?

How we're tackling growing vaping problem

Vaping, the inhalation of vapor usually containing nicotine, is increasingly a problem in our schools. We believe a growing number of students in our high schools and middle schools are using vaping devices, and we are deeply concerned about the harm this is doing to their health. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing brain.

E-cigarette use among youth has skyrocketed in the past year at a rate of epidemic proportions. The percentage of high schoolers reporting using e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days rose by more than 75 percent between 2017 and 2018. Use among middle schoolers also increased nearly 50 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Health risk: E-cigarette use poses a significant – and avoidable – health risk to young people, as noted in the 2016 Surgeon General’s report on E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults. Besides increasing the possibility of addiction and long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health, e-cigarette use may also lead to the use of regular cigarettes that can do even more damage to the body.

What we see: The administrators and school resource officers in our secondary schools have seen evidence of students vaping on school property. Some are confronting the problem weekly. Manufacturers of vaping devices have made them smaller and easier to conceal. Some of those confiscated this school year have a "guitar pic" shape and are bright colors (see photo). Earlier models resemble pens or USB flash drives.

Use at school: Students can vape undetected in bathrooms, hallways and even classrooms. They can exhale the vapor into hoodies or sleeves, or just hold it in for a few seconds until the vapor dissipates. Newer devices produce smaller vapor clouds. A few years back, these devices would make some noise when being operated. Now they are virtually silent.

The attraction: The vape liquids come in flavors that appeal to kids. Students are drawn to them because they taste good, smell good and give them a buzz. Many of the young users think vaping tobacco products is harmless and nothing at all like smoking cigarettes. According to the U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth: "All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine. A typical JUUL cartridge, or 'pod,' contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.These products also use nicotine salts, which allow particularly high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-base nicotine that has traditionally been used in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes."

Discipline: Some students under 18 turn to someone old enough to legally buy the products. Others buy the devices online using false identification. Any student found to be using or possessing a vaping device at school faces serious consequences, including a suspension of up to three days and a $74 police citation for minor in possession of tobacco.

Community partners: Coeur d'Alene Public Schools is collaborating with the Coeur d'Alene Police Department and Kootenai County Sheriff's Office on educating students and the community about the risks of vaping. Our three middle school School Resource Officers plan to incorporate vaping education in their Character Counts talks with students. In addition, drug recognition experts from law enforcement will offer the school district continuing education on the types of substances students may be ingesting with their vaping devices. Finally, the district's Nursing Services department is looking at partnering with student nurses from North Idaho College and Washington State University on student education and community outreach regarding vaping.

Virtual field trip on e-cigarette use: Discovery Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examine the science behind e-cigarettes and the impact they can have on teenagers’ health and well-being in this Virtual Field Trip.

Sources of Strength training begins in 5 schools

Coeur d’Alene Public Schools is now launching the Sources of Strength program in our secondary schools. Sources of Strength seeks to change unhealthy norms and school culture, with the goal of preventing suicide, bullying, violence and substance abuse.

Teams of peer leaders, mentored by adult advisors, will work to change peer social norms and encourage other students to individually assess and develop strengths in their life. Recognizing that adolescents are more likely to seek help from their peers, Sources of Strength seeks to equip those peers to adequately handle such outreach.

In recent weeks, teachers at Coeur d’Alene High School and Lake City High School have nominated students to participate in Sources of Strength as youth leaders. At our three middle schools, students nominated their peers to be the leaders. The students will represent all grade levels, social circles and individual strengths.

All 245 of these students will learn about the challenges they and their peers face, and the sources of support that can help them. They will learn how to promote positivity and encourage others to connect to someone when they are going through hard times.

In addition, 54 district employees were trained today as Sources of Strength advisors (see photo below). Each school will have teams of 9 to 12 adult advisors.

Middle school youth leaders and adult advisers are participating in an all-day training this week. High school student leaders and adult advisers will follow with training in February.

Woodland Middle School teacher Azure Wilson is the program coordinator for the district. She can be reached at arwilson@cdaschools.org.

Sources of Strength advisor training

SAFETY: Schools practice lockdowns at variuous times of day

In early December, Lake City High School conducted a lockdown drill during passing period, when students are scattered around the building between classes. The intent was for students and staff to practice our safety measures during an inconvenient time of day, and not when everyone is sitting in class waiting for the drill to begin.

How'd it go? Fairly well, but we know we have some work to do. As you can see in the video below, the halls cleared fairly quickly. But not everyone headed directly to the nearest locking room, as they should have. We had observers stationed throughout the school to rate the response and take notes, and we are taking what we learned and building it into our procedures and training.

We will continue practicing lockdowns and other safety responses (safety holds, evacuations) at all our schools, and will look for opportunities to drill at unexpected and awkward times, such as recess and lunch. Not all drills will be announced. It's critically important that everyone treat these exercises as if they are the real thing. That includes remaining quiet and keeping phones silenced during lockdowns.

If you have any questions about our safety procedures, contact our district's Safety and Security Coordinator, Dean Keck, at dkeck@cdaschools.org or (208) 664-8241.


SAFETY: New safety posters go up in schools

SRO spotlight: Lee Morgan, CdA Police

Coeur d’Alene Police Officer Lee Morgan has been with the department his entire career, just over 10 years. In April he will mark two years as the SRO at Canfield Middle School.

Morgan says the best part of being an SRO is the relationships he builds with students and teachers. “Especially the kids because I want them to see police as someone they can trust and feel comfortable coming to in need. I also think it’s important to build relationships with the parents. It is very important to me that the parents know their kids are in good hands while at school.”

Morgan is a parent of a freshman at Lake City High School, “and I know without a doubt she is safe while at LCHS with Officer Nate Petersen as the SRO.”

He went on to say, “I want the families to know that all of the School Resource Officers here at the Coeur d'Alene Police Department are very passionate about school safety and building trust with staff and students of each school. I think it is important for them to know we attend a lot of training for this job and take safety very seriously.”

In his free time, Morgan enjoys bowling. He has bowled all his life and has a few perfect games under his belt. This summer he will go to Las Vegas to bowl in a national tournament.

Screenagers: The association between screen time and changes in the brain

Researchers recently reported finding that kids who spent more than 7 hours a day on screens, on average, had a thinner outer layer of their cerebral cortex than kids who spent less time on screens. The cerebral cortex is the area that houses “executive functioning” such as data consolidation, problem-solving and planning. It also helps us regulate our responses to emotions that come from deeper areas of the brain.

To lern more, read Dr. Delaney Ruston's Tech Talk Tuesday blog item on this research.

School nurse profile: Vicki Trefz, LCHS

Vicki Trefz has been a school nurse for 30 years, presently at Lake City High School. She previously worked at Ramsey and Fernan elementary schools as well as in the Lakeland School District, and taught at the Kootenai Technical Education Campus for 4 years and the Riverbend Professional Technical Academy for 10 years.

Vicki earned her nursing degree at Loma Linda University at age 23, but was a certified nursing assistant since 15 when she took the CNA course in high school. She has experience working in intensive care, cardiac unit, public health and OBGYN settings.

She says the best part of her job is helping kids with their physical health as well as mental, emotional and psycho-social wellbeing, and life skills. “I enjoy mentoring in student career plans and goals so they too can reach their dream.”

From her 23 years of teaching health occupations, Vicki sees many past students in our community working as nurses, doctors and therapist. “I feel blessed that I have had an amazing career and can give back. I believe in connecting with the students and staff.”

She advises parents to model for their kids and encourage them to work hard and find their passion. “Support them in their endeavors and find adult surrogates to mentor them; it takes a community to raise a child!”

Her other tips for families:

  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast
  • Eat together and talk often about what is going on in their school and social circles
  • Put down social media and get 8-9 hours of sleep
  • Exercise or do sports
  • Take a day of rest each week
  • Meditate for a break from life daily
  • Build healthy relationships with family and friends
  • Discipline with love and support

Vicki loves being on the lake, camping, gardening and vacationing in the Cancun area of Mexico. When she retires, she plans to spend more time there and get back into scuba diving, be around her kids and grandkids in the Walla Walla Valley.

“I am extremely content and love my job, so much so I put off retirement for now.”

Waiting until 8th grade for that smartphone

Many parents wonder at what age they should let their children have a smartphone. Smartphones are widespread in elementary and middle school because of unrealistic social pressure and expectations to have one, says social media safety speaker Josh Ochs. In a recent podcast, Josh talks about the "Wait Until 8th" pledge that empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade. By banding together, he says, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone.

Josh Ochs on smartphones and kids: "These devices are quickly changing childhood for children. Playing outdoors, spending time with friends, reading books and hanging out with family is happening a lot less to make room for hours of snap chatting, instagramming and catching up on You Tube."

Courtesy of SmartSocial.com

See or hear something? Say something!

All Coeur d'Alene Public Schools staff, parents, students and community members are encouraged to report any school-related safety concerns and to alert administrators to any potential threat. There are several ways you can do this:

  • If you hear, see or are made aware of an immediate possible threat or danger, call 911.
  • You also can use our new district Tip Line to report a threat easily, quickly and anonymously.
  • Or use our new mobile app, which has a "Report a Threat" feature. Get the app on Google Play, or download it from the App Store. Search for Coeur d'Alene Public Schools. Read more about this new app.

Weather-related school closures

Schools may be closed for weather, road conditions or other safety issues. When severe weather or dangerous road conditions are a factor, District officials will assess our neighborhoods, roadways and driving conditions early in the morning, taking into account the latest weather forecasts. The Superintendent will decide whether to cancel school, in most cases by 5 a.m.

Once we decide to close school, communications will be sent as soon as possible. You can expect to receive an email message or text from us if we are closed. We also will post closures on our websites; on our Facebook, Twittera nd Instagram pages; and share with area news media. Learn more here.

How we communicate in emergencies

In the event of a school emergency or lockdown, we will communicate about what is happening just as soon as we are able to confirm the information from school officials, law enforcement or emergency responders. Our goal is to provide credible, accurate and useful information to the public as soon as possible.

Look for updates on the District Facebook page (@cdaschools) and Twitter feed (@cdaschools). We also may post an onscreen alert on our website. Another way we keep in touch is by sending messages directly to the parents and guardians of our students. This may include emergency text messages or email. Please make sure your emergency contact information is up to date in your child's Skyward account; the number listed in the No. 3 phone contact needs to be your cell number.

We will provide updates to local news media as well, but emergency situations can change rapidly. When multiple agencies are involved, communication is coordinated through a lead agency, which may cause a delay in notification. Please help us control the spread of rumors and unconfirmed details. Information shared by others on social media may be inaccurate and could prove harmful.