High Schools Now Required to Stock Opioid Antidote for Overdoses

Pinelands Regional’s Policy Predates New Law
Sep 05, 2018

Under a new law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Aug. 24, high schools are required to have an anti-opioid medicine such as Narcan available on school property to treat suspected overdoses from opioids.

School nurses, resource police officers and other trained employees could administer the medicine to students, visitors or employees while on school grounds.

Lower grade schools could also opt to have the opioid antidote in their schools.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Kip Bateman and has the distinction of garnering every vote in both the Senate and Assembly when they voted in June.

The bill goes into effect Dec. 1 after publication in the New Jersey Register. The state Department of Education is directed to supply guidelines to the schools so they can create their school policy.

New Jersey ranks sixth in the highest number of overdoses of youth ages 12 to 25 in the country, 10.7 per 100,000 students, according to a recent report by the Trust for America’s Health.

Pinelands Regional School District had already adopted a policy on administering an opioid antidote in May 2017 after the state Department of Education informed schools that they could adopt such policies.

The policy states the school district’s nurse may administer an opioid antidote that has been already prescribed to the district by the school’s physician. The school physician should also provide overdose prevention information to the school nurse for distribution. The overdose prevention information should include information on opioid antidote dosage and instructions on opioid antidote (usually the nasal spray Narcan), the necessity of calling 911 emergency and instructions for appropriate care of an overdose victim after administration of the opioid antidote.

Any student who receives an opioid antidote administered by the school nurse or by an emergency medical responder shall be transported to the nearest hospital. Parent or family member will be contacted.

Any student or school staff member who is found to be under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance shall be subject to the applicable laws and board policies.

Pinelands Regional Superintendent Melissa McCooley said although she was not yet on the staff of Pinelands in 2017 she was glad the board was proactive back then in creating the policy. “It’s an ongoing problem in the community and all school districts received a lot of information around that time and the state offered free training for individuals to get certified (in the administration of the opioid antidote).

“All our school nurses are RNs (registered nurses) and are trained in that regard,” she added.

McCooley is also superintendent of the Little Egg Harbor School District. Although the state has now made it possible for grade schools to have Narcan available in their nurse’s offices, the Little Egg district does not, said McCooley. But she also said both Pinelands and the Little Egg Harbor district have resource police officers and they are trained in Narcan administration and have it in their cars.

Both Southern Regional and Barnegat high school administrators were contacted for comments but had not replied as of press time.

— Pat Johnson




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