The Dallas Independent School District has pledged to take a proactive approach to the fentanyl crisis, which has claimed the lives of several teenagers across North Texas in recent months. To combat the opioid epidemic, DISD schools are considering the implementation of Narcan, a nasal spray form of naloxone, a life-saving drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose.
The district aims to empower staff, including nurses, administrators, and athletic trainers, with the necessary skills to administer the drug and respond swiftly to an overdose. However, the implementation of Narcan at DISD schools will require a revision of the district’s medical treatment policy, a change that the school board has expressed eagerness to make.
Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde emphasized the importance of Narcan in DISD schools, stating that “we can at least ensure that we have what is necessary to take immediate action, with trained individuals,” during the school board’s March briefing. Without the policy change, DISD would not have the authority to utilize Narcan.
The recent overdose cases of middle and high school students in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD have left schools across North Texas shaken. Federal charges have been filed against three individuals for distributing fentanyl, resulting in the deaths of three CFISD students and hospitalizations of six others. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is often laced into fake pills such as Percocet, OxyContin, or Xanax, putting unsuspecting buyers at risk. The drug is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
While DISD schools currently do not have Narcan or similar drugs on campuses, the school board’s proposed policy change could allow the district to join other surrounding communities that have already taken steps to prevent overdose deaths in schools. To further educate DISD students, parents, and staff about the dangers of fentanyl, the district is planning forums and awareness meetings, including a fentanyl awareness meeting conducted in Spanish by the community organization group Comadres Unidas de Dallas y Mas at W.T. White High School. Special Agent in Charge Eduardo Chávez, who leads the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas division, has also highlighted the dangers of fentanyl and demonstrated how even a tiny amount of the drug can produce a fatal dose.
The implementation of Narcan in DISD schools represents a proactive step in preventing overdose deaths and ensuring the safety of students, staff, and the community. The district’s commitment to educating the public about the dangers of fentanyl further highlights its dedication to addressing the opioid epidemic and creating a safer environment for everyone.