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Checklist for Frederick County schools now includes doses of overdose reversal medication

The Frederick News-Post

July 3, 2017


When summer break ends, Frederick County campuses will be stocked with a new type of school supply: naloxone, the overdose reversal medication.

A new state law, which went into effect on Saturday, requires all public schools and institutes of higher education to begin stocking the drug — more commonly known by its prescription name, Narcan — and training staff on how to administer it.

Locally, that includes all 69 Frederick County Public Schools — including elementary and charter schools such as Monocacy Valley Montessori — and the county’s three accredited higher education campuses: Hood College, Frederick Community College and Mount St. Mary’s University.

“It’s certainly a reflection of the epidemic that’s happening across the state of Maryland,” said Liz Barrett, the vice president of the Frederick County Board of Education. “The cost of stocking naloxone is unfortunately an unfunded mandate right now, but it is a reality, and I’m glad we’re doing something to keep our kids alive.”

The Heroin and Opioid Education and Community Action Act of 2017, or the Start Talking Maryland Act, sets several requirements for schools in response to the continuing rise in opioid-related overdose deaths across the state.

In addition to storing naloxone at schools, local boards of education are responsible for developing specific policies on its use, expanding courses on opioid addiction and, if relevant, hiring community action officials to provide outreach and addiction education to the local community.

Colleges and universities must also stock naloxone on campus, train designated personnel on administering the medication, and provide in-person drug awareness training to students. Schools that award medical degrees must also offer specific instruction on substance use disorders, effective treatment and pain management, though no Frederick County colleges qualify for the requirement.

According to the language of the bill, the governor must appropriate at least $3 million in fiscal 2019 to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), allowing the organization to supply local school boards with grants to help offset the cost of implementing the new law. But for now, the cost of purchasing naloxone and implementing other changes falls largely on Frederick County, Barrett said.