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The “no tobacco” policy at Bedford County schools for students and staff has now been extended to visitors for events at those schools.
That means tobacco products won’t be allowed to be used at sporting events and other activities—by anyone.
The change in policy was adopted by the Bedford County School Board during a meeting last month. According to BCPS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Cherie Whitehurst, the change was made as part of a regular review of policies for the school system.
“I had a committee of administrators work with me on this,” Dr. Whitehurst stated. Those included principals at both the elementary, middle and high school levels as well as representatives from the athletics departments.
“We felt like it needed to be updated,” she said of the policy.
Previously the “no tobacco” policy allowed for the designation of a smoking area on school grounds, outside of buildings. “We recommended that be removed from the policy,” she said.
The updates to the policy for students are aligned with the Code of Student Conduct and prohibit the possession, use and distribution of tobacco products to students. The newly updated Tobacco Use on School Premises policy, however, now also prohibits adult visitors from using tobacco products on school property.
“We have not allowed students to use tobacco products for years. It’s not new for students,” Dr. Whitehurst said.
But the policy change will be new for visitors coming to the school for activities.
“We believe it was the right thing to do and is in line with what we know about the harmful effects of tobacco,” she said.
The policy applies to all forms of tobacco products. “This will also help out keeping our building and grounds cleaner,” added Dr. Whitehurst. She said, in the past, school staff had to work hard to pick up trash left from the use of tobacco products after events.
The school system wants to make sure that the public is aware of the new policy. Dr. Whitehurst said signs will be put up to remind visitors of the new change. Anyone failing to follow the policy will be reminded by staff and asked to comply. Those failing to comply with the policy will be required to leave school grounds.
“It will be a change for patrons,” she said. “We just hope that they will understand that this is what’s best for our students and our community.”