Casey County High School, which will be smoke-free next year, curbs smoking by locking the restrooms most used by smokers

For two weeks in February, Casey County High School students who wanted to smoke in one of the restrooms were unable to do so because they were locked, Editor Larry Rowell reports for the Casey County News. Principal Josh Blevins said he locked restrooms “most frequented by the students who chose to smoke.”

In September, the Casey County School Board passed a prospective tobacco-free rule, so students and staff will not be allowed to smoke in school buildings next year. Locking the restrooms was a way of sending a message. “That was not my long-term plan,” Blevins said. “I was using this as a launch pad saying it [smoking] wouldn’t be tolerated.”

Blevins started a policy requiring students to ask permission and use a sign-out sheet to use the bathroom during class. The restrooms located near the administrative offices are never locked. he said students have the option of reporting to class and asking to use the restroom.

At least one parent did not agree with the new rules. Ellena Hussey, whose daughter attends the school, told Rowell that the students should have bathroom access between classes. She said her daughter has received 10 tardy slips because she had to wait in line to use the only unlocked restroom. Blevins said he had not heard from any parents who had a problem with his actions.

Local building contractor Kenneth Blevins said one restroom with four stalls is enough for the 200 students who attend the school. “The building code says you have to have one facility for the first 49 people and an additional one for every 50 you have,” he said.

Breathitt County High School employed another method to curb student smoking. “We open all bathrooms at break time between classes,” Supt. Larry Hammond told the Casey County News. “They are locked during class, and they can go to the bathroom between classes, before school, during lunch and after school. They are supervised by teachers.” Students who need to use the bathroom during class get a pass and use the restroom in the principal’s office.

“It at least controls the smell of smoke in the school building,” Hammond said. “You don’t smell it down the hallway.” (Read more)

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