The safety and security of our students and campuses is always a priority for the Lufkin school district. We are working to be proactive to ensure the safety of our students, schools and staff.

We are thrilled to welcome two additional officers to the district, Jeff Taylor and Gilbert Tinajero, who are both experienced and proficient police officers.

In the next month or so, we will post for an additional two officers to be hired this fall and be on board by the end of the semester. This will bring our total force to 11 officers and our canine officer, Iggy.

Having additional officers also will allow our canine officer to be more visible as he visits all of our campuses.

It’s disheartening that we live in a time and world where children, and adults in charge of supervising children, have to address safety and security issues like never before.

We are not immune to these issues and events; however, our officers build relationships with students so that they feel comfortable enough to alert them when something is not right on the campus. Our officers spend time building these relationships and establishing a climate that supports “see something, say something.”

Another safety concern, that not only is a local issue but a national issue as well, is the growing trend of underage vaping. Current headlines seem to indicate a change in the effects and reactions to vaping.

We are seeing an increase in health events among young people across the nation in reaction to an additive or an effect of longer exposure to the vaping process. With flavorings and other additives, vaping is marketed to a younger crowd, potentially our own students at Lufkin ISD.

National data shows that vaping is the second most used substance by teenagers, after alcohol, and we are seeing more usage locally. This usage cannot help but enter our schools.

Lufkin ISD is concerned about this increase in vaping among our students and young people in general. To address this issue, Lufkin ISD is partnering with The Coalition to add Halo vape sensors at Lufkin High School.

This will allow us to supervise areas where we cannot monitor with cameras. This system will alert an administrator through email or text when the addictive vapor is detected. It will indicate the area and our staff can move to address the issue.

The sensors will be installed in the next few weeks, making Lufkin High School a vape-free zone. The vape sensors we have selected also will detect the presence of THC.

Due to the construction about to begin at the middle school campus, we will discuss safety measures at this campus during the construction phase.

We are grateful to The Coalition for partnering with us and helping fund a third of the sensors that will be on the high school campus.

We live in a different time, as we all know. The time of not locking doors and playing in the neighborhood streets until the porch light came on seems foreign to students today.

Even though we have more challenges to keep our students safe, we also have excellent solutions. Our staff works diligently to put safety first, and know that above all, we want our students to feel comfortable and able to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.

Lynn Torres is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. Her email address is ltorres@lufkinisd.org.