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LIVINGSTON, NJ — After hearing the recent news about “a vaping-related illness that is coming to light right now,” Livingston Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Block apprised the public and members of the Livingston Board of Education about the national rise in use of these products among teens and the dangers of that vaping poses to students, stating that it is something the community should “be aware of and concerned about.”

“Our number one responsibility at the Livingston Public Schools is for healthy and safe kids, and this is an issue that could easily hit home,” said Block. “There is a disease that they have found that is related to vaping, with 400 verified cases nationwide, so it’s something that we should all be aware of. I know members of the board have requested some more information on it, and we’re going to work on getting some more information to the board in terms of a presentation.”

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Cities across the United States continue to discuss bans and age restrictions on vapor product sales. On Tuesday, New York became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

In New Jersey, Senate President Stephen Sweeney has called for legislation for a ban on electronic smoking devices, and Gov. Phil Murphy has created a task force to study the dangers and return to the state with recommendations on how to regulate the sales.

On a local level, the Township of Livingston adopted an ordinance in July of 2018 prohibiting “vape shops,” or any establishment that primarily sells “electronic devices, liquid nicotine or vapor products,” in the township’s retail commercial zones.

Last week, after hearing of the 400 varified cases of severe breathing illnesses linked to vaping, Block said he sent an Email to all of Livingston’s health teachers to remind them to cover the dangers of vaping as part of their curriculum.

The district has since shared a letter from Acting Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli from the New Jersey Department of Health that included resources meant to help educate the public about the health risks of electronic smoking devices. Click HERE to read the full letter.

Block brightened the tone of his superintendent’s report by expressing pride in both the students and the staff of Livingston Public Schools over the first week of the school year, referencing events like the recent Sumer Reading Lollapalooza at the high school and his first orientation with the full staff.

During the first week, Block had his first opportunity to speak to the faculty members from all nine schools at one time and was thrilled by the outcome.

“Our message for this year was to remember their ‘why,’” said Block. “I think as educators, we tend to get into the mechanics of our everyday professional lives and we tend to be swept away by all of the pressures that our put upon us. 

“I said to our staff that we all got into education, hopefully, because we love students and we love teaching and we love to see learning happen, and I think it’s important on an annual basis—or maybe even more often—to remind ourselves why we put in all the extra effort that we do and why we come to work every day and work our hardest on behalf of our students. We all got into education for those reasons and hopefully the staff took an opportunity to reflect on those reasons.”

After being given a myriad of titles to choose from for their required summer reading, more than 100 Livingston High School students elected to participate in the school’s “Summer Reading Lollapalooza!,” which included two one-hour book-club-style forums during the first week of school.

Block, who was among the many administrators who attended the event and read along with the teens, said he was extremely impressed and inspired by “the high level of student participation, the level of discussion and the insight into the books.”

“This was another great program,” he said. “Kudos to our high school students who really participated in a meaningful way.”

Block’s praise of this program came shortly after he praised the members of the senior class for their spirited but respectful return to school.  Click HERE to read more.