Los Angeles Unified School District will make overdose reversal drug naloxone available in its public schools following recent student fentanyl overdoses.
LAUSD is the second-largest school system in the United States, and its decision will affect nearly 1,400 elementary, middle and high schools. School police officers will also be given a supply of naloxone.
Naxolone is a highly effective method used to counteract the effects of a drug overdose in a timely manner via nasal spray or injection. The treatment lasts for a short period of time but allows patients to breathe as first responders begin assisting them.
"Research shows that the availability of naloxone along with overdose education is effective at decreasing overdoses and death and will save lives," LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement Thursday. "We will do everything in our power to ensure that not another student in our community is a victim to the growing opioid epidemic. Keeping students safe and healthy remains 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 would expand its parent outreach abilities and peer counseling along with a district-wide drug education campaign.
"There is nothing better than a student peer to explain the consequences associated with fentanyl to other students," Carvalho added.
The district will work with local law enforcement and school police to allow for a "greater level of supervision" in areas where students are suspected of obtaining drugs.
"The opioid epidemic is a community crisis, and today Los Angeles Unified is taking concrete action to protect our students, both by making naloxone readily available and through proactive education and support," district board President Kelly Gonez said in a statement. "Our board and superintendent are committed to doing everything we can to ensure student safety on our campuses and in our communities."