Anchorage School District takes action after overdoses involving fentanyl

Anchorage School District takes action after overdoses involving fentanyl
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 5:54 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District is enlisting the help of outside groups to address the growing problem of fentanyl use by students, including the State of Alaska and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The opioid epidemic has ripped through Anchorage high schools this spring. At least 10 students have overdosed since the beginning of March and fentanyl is suspected in many of those cases, according to the district.

District spokesperson Lisa Miller said none of the 10 cases were fatal — including five that happened in a single day — and that they occurred in five of the district’s eight high schools.

The district worked with the state and DEA to develop an outreach plan for students and their families. Part of the plan includes holding school-wide assemblies at Anchorage middle and high schools to educate students about the dangers of fentanyl.

West High Principal Ja Dorris said it’s important to get the message out now with the end of the school year fast approaching.

“It’s springtime, we have a bunch of celebrations, grad parties, senior skip day, prom, all those kinds of things that likely increases the chances of these kinds of things happening,” said Dorris. “So I thought it was important to try and get that out before these events take place.”

West was one of the first schools to hold an assembly Tuesday where community members talked about losing their children to fentanyl poisoning. Students also watched an emotional film called Dead on Arrival where parents spoke about their loss. Miller said similar events are planned at other Anchorage high schools and middle schools, although the movie will likely be shown only to high school students.

The district also recently held trainings for principals that included how to use the emergency overdose kits that are now available at every school including elementary schools.

“Safety is always our No. 1 priority so whatever we can do to spread awareness about fentanyl use and have students and staff — anyone confident in how to respond and understand the symptoms and what to do in those scenarios if something were to happen on campus — that’s our goal,” said Miller. “To be as prepared as possible.”