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

Was there a tornado in Courtenay on Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Record produced by Courtenay’s Doug Cox earns Juno nomination

He worked with fiddler April Verch in Nashville on classic country record

No bears destroyed in Cumberland in 2019

WildSafeBC coordinator updates Village on successes and challenges

Uptown Yarns marks 20 years in business in downtown Courtenay

Owner Jennifer Emslie says crafts like knitting are making a comeback

Crown Isle in Courtenay home to one of lottery’s prize homes

Extras with local BC Children’s Hospital prize include nearby townhouse, vehicles and cash

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

New officers elected to Comox Valley Airport Commission

The Comox Valley Airport Commission (CVAC) board of directors has elected Martin… Continue reading

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Courtenay council to discuss bridge cantilevers at its next meeting

At its next meeting, Courtenay council will revisit the idea of including… Continue reading

Most Read