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Virginia high school suffers 7 opioid-related overdoses in 3 weeks

Seven students from the same high school in Loudoun, Virginia, overdosed in the past three weeks, according to the county sheriff’s office Tuesday. 

“The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating at least eight opioid-related overdoses of Park View High School students, seven of which have been reported in the past three weeks,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release. “Four of the overdoses occurred in the school, and of these, three required the administration of Narcan, and two of those required CPR by school personnel.”

The sheriff’s office added that “All the overdoses appear to involve fentanyl, which is commonly found in the form of a counterfeit 30 mg oxycodone pill that is blue, circular, and may be stamped ‘M30.’”

“We know the overwhelming number of Park View students are responsible and care about the safety of their school, and we are putting all available resources into identifying who is responsible for distributing these lethal drugs,” Sheriff Mike Chapman said. “We have also encouraged LCPS to continue its communications with the Park View community and have offered our assistance with additional educational and security measures.”

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The Loudon County Sheriff’s Office defined an opioid overdose as a “reaction to a suspected opioid that requires medical treatment in the form of Narcan, CPR, or transport to the hospital.”

Law enforcement said it has investigated 18 reports of opioid overdoses involving minors in Loudoun County so far this year. In 2022, the sheriff’s office investigated 19 similar reports. 

 “Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid, easy to disguise, and relatively inexpensive to produce and distribute. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 7 out of every 10 pills seized contain a lethal dose of fentanyl,” the press release noted. 

Dr. Aaron Spence, the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent said he was “saddened” about the opioid crisis reaching the Park View community.

“LCPS is taking active steps to support our students, families and staff with fentanyl awareness and education, including training and supplying staff in each of our high schools with Naloxone for emergencies. This week, Park View families received a message with information and resources, and school leadership is holding grade-level assemblies and parent meetings. Extra administrators, counselors, and Safety & Security Officers are also supporting our Park View community,” Spence said.

“We began to address Fentanyl awareness last spring, with a series of six community information sessions and will continue this effort division wide. I think it is important to note that the issue of addiction is truly at play here. When students come to school, we want them to learn and thrive. But, most of all we want them to live. We must, as a community, come together to find ways to help our young people who are facing these issues,” he added. 

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When contacted by FOX News Digital, LCPS noted that Spence has “asked for our Safety and Security team to go to the school and conduct a safety assessment to ensure we were doing all we can to prevent students from accessing/using fentanyl in school.” 

“The young people in our community, no matter whether on campus or off, need help to fight this substance abuse and addiction. We have devoted extra staff support for Park View, including training additional personnel on administering Narcan,” a spokesperson for the district wrote. “This is just one of many steps we will take moving forward.”

FOX News Digital was also provided a copy of the letter sent to families in the school district, announcing that multiple high schools have had students overdose on campus grounds in 2023, a sharp rise from the previous year. Their numbers did not appear to include high school students who overdosed off campus, as the sheriff’s office tally did.

“To date this school year, our records indicate LCPS has had 10 suspected overdoses across six of our high schools,” Spence wrote. “In this case, what this means is 10 students were transported for treatment of symptoms related to a suspected opioid overdose and four of those 10 students had one or more doses of Naloxone administered (three students at Park View High School and one student at Dominion High School have had Naloxone administered)… For comparison’s sake, four incidents required naloxone administration to students during the entire 22/23 school year.”

The opioid crisis has been devastating communities across the country for years. In order to combat it, some states are providing Narcan to college students. 

Narcan, which is the brand name for naloxone, reverses the effects of opioids.

New York passed a law that requires all public universities to have Narcan in student housing facilities. California also provides Narcan to college students. 

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Source – https://www.foxnews.com/media/virginia-high-school-7-opioid-related-overdoses-3-weeks