ANDOVER — Trying to get into the high school dance? Blow into this breath tester first, please.
The School Committee unanimously approved a pilot program last night for Breathalyzer use at school events for the rest of the year. Under the program, students arriving at dances will need to blow into a Breathalyzer in order to get through the doors.
The policy was brought to the School Committee by the Andover High School’s School Council, a representative group of students, teachers, administrators and more. They created the proposal after alcohol issues at the school grew in number over the last few years.
Under the policy, students attending the events with Breathalyzer testing will blow into the device from four to six inches away. If the test ends with a positive reading, a second one will be administered to eliminate the possibility of a false positive.
Students who blow a reading on both tests will be released to their parents and prohibited from entering the event. Disciplinary action outlined in the school’s student handbook will be enforced as if the student came to school drunk. Punishments include a three-day suspension and completion of two outside family counseling sessions.
The first event to use the policy will be the school’s Valentine’s Day dance next month.
While there has been no established schedule for other events to test the policy, one guaranteed to require breath testing will be the school’s prom, held around May, according to Brian Wivell, student liaison to the School Committee and member of the School Council.
Guests attending the prom who aren’t from the school will also be required to blow into the devices in order to attend, as outlined in the policy.
While the council supported the proposal and the School Committee put the pilot in motion with a unanimous vote, the proposal was not popular among students.