The province sees the need to protect students by giving them access to Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
With a growing drug epidemic across the country, how is the Department of Education of Newfoundland and Labrador handling prevention measures across schools in the province?
In November, the province started providing all schools with junior high and high school students with naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan.
Naloxone is a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It comes in either a nasal spray form or in an injectable syringe.
Each injectable kit contains three syringes, three vials or ampoules of naloxone, a one-way CPR mask, and a pair of non-latex gloves. The nasal spray kits contain both the CPR mask and gloves along with two single-use naloxone nasal spray devices.
The Department of Education distributed a minimum of two naloxone kits to the schools: a nasal spray and the injectable form. The department gives instructions to the schools with suggestions for the placement of the kits and information on how to administer the medication.
The naloxone kits are placed near school AED stations for ease of access. The kits have a time frame of two years to be used before the NLSchools reassesses the need for replacement. When a kit is used or is nearing the time of expiration, the school is advised to contact the provincial occupational health and safety team to obtain a replacement kit with instructions on how to dispose of the used kit.
O’Donel High School student Henry Stark had mixed feelings about the availability of the kits.
“It’s scary that we have to think about stuff like that, but it’s great that my peers who might need access to Narcan can,” Stark said.
Having naxalone available in schools has been a growing trend across Canada. Other provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia have implemented similar programs aimed at harm reduction and minimizing the damages from the ongoing opioid crisis.
Students and staff are given extensive amounts information on the topic of naloxone and overdose prevention from the Department of Education.
The Department of Education will provide training to all its school staff on how to spot the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose and how to safely administer the medication.
Darrell Sneyd, the vice-principal at O’Donel High School in Mount Pearl, was frank about the need for the kits.
“It’s a reality that schools need to deal with,” Sneyd said.
The Department of Education says education and awareness on the topic of drug safety is an important step in the prevention of opioid poisoning among young adults. NLSchools is encouraging its schools and staff to promote dialogue about harm reduction and drug safety.