Public schools in the state are now required to stock naloxone and add opioids to drug education

Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 18:22:54-04

It might be a sign of the times, but the goal is to save lives. Now that message is coming to the classrooms.

"Well, I think it's appropriate, unfortunately, in today's society it's more prevalent," said Parent Mario Orlando.

"I think it's sad that society has come to a point where you have to have that available in school, honestly," Parent Christina Young said.

No one is immune to the opioid epidemic. As overdose deaths continue to spike, educators are on the front line of that battle.

"One of my friends, her boyfriend's brother passed away a few years ago from heroin overdose and it's kinda heavy in high schools, O know that for sure, whether it's marijuana or if it's heroin, anything like that, it's heavy," 17-year-old Pilar Briggs said.

That's why lawmakers got behind the Start Talking Maryland Act. The law requires public schools to stock naloxone, and have staff trained to use the overdose-reversal drug. It also mandates drug education include the dangers of powerful opioids.

We checked in with local school systems to find out if your student's school will have revamped drug lessons and naloxone on hand.

In Baltimore City, school officials tell us they tweaked drug prevention programs to include opioids. Doses of naloxone are in every single school, and we're told nurses are ready to administer it. Health educators will also be trained this fall.

"We saw an increase of opioid overdoses in the community and a decrease in the ages of the victims," said Harford County Public Schools Nurse Coordinator, Mary Nasuta.

In Harford County, naloxone has been available in schools for the last few years. School Resource Officers as well as middle and high school nurses are trained, and elementary level nurses will go through training before the school year starts.

"I don't think it's something that people are really talking about at home, unfortunately, so I think if it's available in the schools and it can be taught in the schools then Amen, go for it," Young said.

Over in Baltimore County, heroin prevention is already part of the curriculum, but educators are beefing up their efforts. Naloxone has been in middle and high schools since the start of the last school year, and it's being added at elementary schools.

"I think our hope is that we wouldn't have to use it, however, we are all well aware that is always a possibility," said Anne Arundel County School Nurse, Susan Comly.

In Anne Arundel County Schools, middle and high schoolers have been taught about opioids for the last three years, and this school year the lessons will include fentanyl.

Last winter naloxone was placed in every school in the district. Ten days after nurses completed training, the overdose antidote had to be used on a student.

"Students and teenagers, they need to know that it can happen to them,” said Briggs. “They can overdose whether they're having a little bit of fun or not, it is serious business."

The Start Talking Maryland Act also applies to public colleges in the state.