JUPITER, Fla. — UPDATE: The policy of students having to be escorted to bathrooms during class has been lifted, according to school officials.
According to the school district, the policy will be reinstated if the issue arises again.
A major policy change is happening at a Palm Beach County high school because of vaping concerns.
On Thursday, the principal of Jupiter High School announced that students can no longer use restrooms during class, unless there's an emergency and they're escorted by an assistant principal.
The issue is sparking debate among parents.
11 weeks into the new school year and Dr. Colleen Iannitti, the school's principal, said she now believes she has what it takes to stop students from vaping on campus.
"It is a huge problem," Dr. Iannitti said in a video released on Thursday to students, staff, and parents. "Every single day since school started, we have found a student or multiple students in our bathrooms who have been vaping."
Because of that, Dr. Iannitti is taking what some parents call drastic measures to crack down on a growing trend on campus.
"That is the reason why we are asking teachers not to let you out of class like they normally would," Dr. Iannitti said.
Under the new rule at Jupiter High School, students are no longer allowed to ask for a hall pass to use the bathroom during class. Instead, they’re only allowed to go the bathroom in the six minutes in between classes, or if they have a teacher contact an assistant principal to take them to the bathroom, and that’s only if it’s an emergency.
"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 Jeff Glassgold, a parent.
In the three-minute video played on TVs throughout campus on Thursday, Dr. Iannitti said the changes are for the health and safety of all students.
"On a weekly basis, we have someone that leaves in an ambulance going to the emergency room for something that they smoked in one of our bathrooms," said Dr. Iannitti. "I’m going to ask you to follow those rules for the next few weeks and see if we can get students to stop vaping in our bathroom.
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue told WPTV they've responded to 10 calls at Jupiter High School for a variety of incidents, and eight people have been taken to the hospital.