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The Los Angeles Unified School District will make the overdose reversal drug naloxone available in its public schools after recent student fentanyl overdoses.
LAUSD is the second largest school system in the United States, and the decision will affect approximately 1,400 elementary, middle and high schools. Naloxone will also be provided to school police officers.
Naxolone is a highly effective method used to counteract the effects of a drug overdose through a timely nasal spray or injection. Treatment lasts only a short time but allows patients to breathe as first responders begin to assist them.
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“Research shows that availability of naloxone combined with overdose education is effective in reducing overdoses and deaths and can save lives,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement Thursday. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that no other student in our community falls victim to the growing opioid epidemic. Keeping students safe and healthy is our highest priority.”
In recent weeks, nine students have overdosed in LAUSD, including 15-year-old Melanie Ramos, who died in a school bathroom after taking a pill containing fentanyl.
Carvalho noted that the district will expand its parent outreach capabilities and peer counseling along with a districtwide drug education campaign.
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“There is nothing better than a student peer to explain the findings related to fentanyl to other students,” added Carvalho.
The district will work with local law enforcement agencies and school police to allow a “greater level of supervision” in areas where students are suspected of taking drugs.
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“The opioid epidemic is a community crisis, and today Los Angeles Unified is taking strong steps to protect our students, both by making naloxone available and through proactive education and support,” district board president Kelly Gonzalez said in a statement. “Our board and superintendent are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety of students on our campuses and in our communities.”