Opiod abuse news: District waiver on student abuse screening, pending Narcan policy for schools, and invite to parent forum on abuse awareness

Above: The invitation to a panel discussion following a screening of this short film on substance abuse awareness is one of the items I’m rounding up today. (From YouTube)

There has been a lot in the news about the opiod abuse crisis, especially among youth. I have three related news items to share on the issue that effect our community. Two came out of a recent school committee meeting. A third is an invitation from a nearby community, urging Southborough parents to attend an April 6th forum on addiction.

School nurses getting green light to treat overdose

The district is working to adopt a new policy on Narcan use. The policy acknowledges that when school is in session, school nurses are the first responders to a medical crisis. Nurses will be trained to administer Narcan in the event of an apparent overdose. Unlike some school districts, other staff won’t be able to administer the drug. The policy is restricted to school hours, since those are the hours for which nurses are staffed.

The policy was discussed a last week’s Northborough, Southborough and Regional Combined School Committee meeting. It is still in the required stages of the review process before final votes. (Southborough Wicked Local also covered the discussion. You can read more on it here.)

District impacts legislation; to be granted waiver on ” verbal substance abuse screening”

This month, state legislators celebrated the passing of a “bipartisan compromise” bill to help address the problem. Last week, Superintendent Christine Johnson shed light on one aspect of changes from earlier versions of the bill.

According to Johnson, the new law would have required our district to survey 7th and 10th graders on what their potential addictive tendencies might be. But schools, like our district, can waive the mandate “if they can demonstrate that they have meaningful programs going on in their schools.”

Johnson share the news at the combined committees meeting. She clarified that the schools won’t survey students

Not because we don’t care but because we have phenomenal programs in place in our schools.

The district will be able to apply for available grant money to continue their work. The superintendent said she received a congratulations from Representative Carolyn Dykema who credited the district in helping to get the language included. Johnson said that school committee members had written letters, visited the state house, and had conversations with legislators on the issue.

Language in a press release on the bill that passed includes the following language:

Schools will annually be required to conduct a verbal substance abuse screening in two grade levels. These screenings are subject to appropriate ages and include an opt-out provision for students and parents. Additionally, school districts implementing alternative substance use screening policies may opt out of the verbal screening tool requirement.

You can see the full press release from Senator Jamie Eldridge’s office here.

Parents invited to “If Only” forum on addiction

I received an email on an event co-sponsored by local Substance Youth Prevention coalitions. It asked me to urge parents to attend a forum on addiction, featuring a short film screening followed by a panel discussion:

Parents urged to attend upcoming event
“If only I knew then what I know now …”

Due to an increasing number of deaths caused by opioid addiction, many Massachusetts communities are taking notice and considering what can be done to reverse these numbers in the coming years. Opioid-related deaths are affecting families of all types and parents are being urged to become educated about the risks their children face. (Read more here.)

The event takes place on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 6:00 pm at Grace Baptist Church, 353 River Road, Hudson.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Click here to sign up.

Of course, Algonquin recently hosted its own panel discussion in our district. You can take a look at that here.

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