Florida High School Bans Bathroom Breaks Over Vaping Concerns 

By Paul Gaita 11/04/19

The school's principal says that students have been taken to the emergency room "on a weekly basis" as a result of vaping.

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Florida high school bathroom
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Update: 11/7/2019 - This ban has been lifted.

Students at a high school in Florida's Palm Beach County will no longer be able to take bathroom breaks during class, allegedly due to what High Times described as "widespread e-cigarette use."

Dr. Colleen Iannitti informed her students at Jupiter High School during its daily video announcements that use of the bathroom at school would be limited to the six minutes allowed for students to travel between class periods.

Dr. Iannitti claimed that students have been found vaping in the bathroom since the start of the school year, which prompted the ban, which was been met with a mixed response from parents.

Emergency Room Visits Because Of Vaping

In the video, Dr. Iannitti explained that the bathroom ban was due to students "going to the bathrooms so [they] can meet up with [their] friends and smoke and vape and do all those kinds of things that [they] shouldn't be doing in the bathroom."

Iannitti also claimed in the video that students have been taken to hospital emergency rooms "on a weekly basis" as a result of vaping.

WPTV in Palm Beach spoke to the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, which stated that they had responded to 10 calls at Jupiter High for "a variety of incidents," and that eight people had been taken to hospitals.

There Are Bathroom Breaks For Emergencies...With An Escort

Under the new rules, students at Jupiter would only be permitted free access to school bathrooms during the six minutes allotted for them between classes. Teachers would not give students' permission to use the bathroom during class, except in the case of an emergency, for which the student would be escorted to the bathroom by an assistant principal.

Iannitti also added that she would consider lifting the new restrictions, but only if students could abide by the rules "for the next few weeks" after which she would "see if we can get students to stop vaping in our bathroom[s]."

According to WPTV, the decision has generated some concern among parents of students at Jupiter High. "I understand the concern from the school's point of view," said parent Jeff Glassgold. "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."

Coverage from High Times also noted that for some students – especially those with disabilities or that identify as transgender, and who may already have anxiety regarding bathroom use – the new rules may seem more restrictive and even punitive.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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