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East Greenbush Central School District’s Board of Education unanimously approved an Opioid Prevention Policy at Wednesday evening’s public meeting which will permit the use of naloxone to treat a narcotic overdose on school grounds.

Under Policy #8121.1, school nurses and other staff who are trained responders may administer naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan, in the event of an overdose at Columbia High School or Goff Middle School during the school day or during after school events. Naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose including difficulty breathing or unresponsiveness.

The policy allows for naloxone nasal spray to be stored in the nurses’ offices and in specific AED cabinets in the schools.

Opioids, which include illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and fentanyl, have become a growing issue in communities across the United States in recent years. In 2015, more than 33,000 people died from opioid-related deaths, an increase of 15% from the year prior, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

A 2015 NYS Department of Health report endorsed “training first responders and other likely witnesses to recognize and respond to overdoses, and providing access to naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses.”

This new policy was brought to the Board of Education following discussions with health experts and the NYS Education Department. The policy creates an opioid overdose prevention program overseen by the school medical director in conjunction with the coordinator of health services.

The health offices at Columbia and Goff each have one kit of naloxone nasal spray. The nasal spray for the AED cabinets will be available once the application is approved by the NYS Education Department.

“I am pleased that our Board of Education acted proactively and adopted this important health policy,” said Superintendent Jeffrey Simons. “I hope that we never need to use these life-saving kits, but I am comforted to know that we have them in case of an emergency.”

The District will be hosting a community information session on Wednesday, February 15 at 6 p.m. in the Columbia auditorium to discuss the dangers of drug abuse and how this new policy will address those issues.

The Opioid Prevention Policy supplements current drug prevention efforts, including:

  • Health classes that teach substance abuse prevention
  • A Student Assistance Counselor who specializes in substance abuse and mental health issues
  • Presentations from the Rensselaer County Department of Mental Health
  • Prevention Needs Assessment questionnaire administered to students in 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades every two years
  • Free Active Parenting workshop each year
  • Training sessions for school staff to recognize potential issues

CDC graph of opioid deaths