Students, parents miffed after bathroom doors bolted open at Vancouver Island high school

Qualicum school district says move is to combat vaping

Students and parents at Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary School have raised privacy concerns around bathroom doors being bolted open, but the school district said it’s an effective and necessary tactic for reducing vaping.

Beverley McCoy’s daughter is a Grade 9 student at Ballenas who said she feels increasingly uncomfortable using bathrooms at school since doors have been kept open. After hearing her daughter’s concerns, McCoy reached out to the school, as well as a lawyer.

“They should be able to feel comfortable going into the bathroom,” she said. “Public bathrooms aren’t very private, but to invite the hallway in, too?”

READ MORE: Ballenas students question Parksville council on city issues

McCoy said she doesn’t think bolting doors open will actually reduce vaping — in her eyes, students will vape no matter what.

“They’re still vaping, they’re just standing in the corner now,” she said.

In response, the school district said this is an extremely effective way to combat vaping, and that they’ve addressed initial privacy concerns. Keven Elder, superintendent of schools for SD69, said vaping is a huge health risk, and making it harder for students to gather in a group behind a closed door is one way to fix a pressing problem.

“It shines a light on vaping — that’s the issue,” he said. “The conversation about the bathroom doors is relatively straight forward.”

When asked about privacy, Elder said the school has installed a privacy screen in front of urinals so people in the hallways can’t see them, and that stalls aren’t visible from outside the bathrooms. Elder said vaping is a top concern for schools right now and that students gathering to vape behind closed bathroom doors has been a big part of the issue.

“Over the last year or two, the main reason for gathering privately behind a closed door has been to vape,” he said.

An online petition asking the school to unbolt the doors, started by a student at Ballenas last week, has garnered more than 350 signatures. Some students who signed the petition insist their concerns aren’t about vaping, but around feeling comfortable at school. One student said even if people can’t see directly in the area of the bathroom, people can still hear what’s going on in the bathroom — a concern, she said, especially for people using sanitary products.

Elder said the problem of students gathering to vape in bathrooms is an old one, except it used to be with cigarettes. Having a space that makes it easier for kids to hang out and vape discourages kids from using the bathroom for legitimate reasons, he said.

He pointed out most bathrooms at Ballenas have been locked open at Ballenas for some time, it’s just recently that the final two in one wing were locked, though some students said having those two bathrooms meant the difference of feeling comfortable at the school.

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan man at large after massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Bob Day making another run for mayor of Lake Cowichan

Day has served 10 years as town councillor

Ross Forrest eyes the mayor’s chair in Lake Cowichan again

Forrest served 10 years as mayor before losing the last election

Prescribed burn for the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 9, if and when site and weather conditions become favourable.

Business notes: Cowichan Valley Wine Festival deemed a success this year

Here are some of the notable things happening in Cowichan’s business community

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

Lumber hitting record high prices due to low supply and high demand

B.C.’s forest industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with the COVID-19 building boom

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. VOTES 2020: Speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Most Read