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

Rare comet dazzles night sky over Saanich Peninsula

Comet NEOWISE is passing Earth for the first time in 7,000 years

Victoria council looks to address systematic racism

Motion put forward calling on police to end street checks

Sooke Writers Collective releases new anthology

Lucky Number Seven features work from local writers

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep Saanich drainage pipe

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Saanich News celebrates community with photospread

Share your images for a chance to win a gift card

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Most Read