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Rochester Public Schools approves policy to stock Narcan in case of opioid overdoses

The Steve Rummler Hope Network is providing the district with a standing order of the medication free of charge.

Rochester School Board
A school board meeting is held on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at the Edison Building in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Rochester Public Schools is gearing up to protect students against future drug overdoses.

The school board recently approved a policy, allowing the district to keep Narcan, or similar products, in case of an opioid overdose. Leah Bancroft, RPS health services coordinator, spoke with the school board about the decision.

"This is something we've been watching, I think, for the last several years," Bancroft said. "We have sensed a change this year. We've had a couple instances in our buildings where we have suspected overdose, and potential opioid overdose."

She went on to explain that she's heard from some students who have used THC in their vape pens without necessarily knowing if it's laced with anything. Those are the kind of circumstances in which students could overdose.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Naloxone, which is the medicine used in Narcan, "is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose."

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The policy calls for some staff to be trained in the use of the medication. However, the policy also refers to a Minnesota statute that allows lay people to be held free from prosecution if they act "in good faith" and administer Narcan to someone who they believe is overdosing.

The district has been working with the Steve Rummler Hope Network, which has been advocating to get the opioid overdose antidote into high schools. The Network, Bancroft said, is providing the standing order of Narcan to RPS free of charge.

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Although the Steve Rummler Hope Network is focused on getting the antidote into high schools, Bancroft clarified that the district could work to expand the option to its middle schools as well.

School board member Jess Garcia said she appreciates the policy clarifying that people will be held harmless if they try to administer Narcan themselves rather than waiting for a health care professional.

"I think it will reduce the hesitancy for others to act if they notice that somebody is potentially presenting with symptoms of overdose," Garcia said. "A couple of our student-run groups in the community have been lobbying us for something like this for some time now."

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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