The epidemic of opioid overdoses has continued to grow, and state officials are taking steps to prevent them in Oregon middle and high schools.
The Oregon Health Authority announced that it plans to provide free opioid overdose kits to schools across the state.
The Oregon Department of Education notified school district leaders last week. As of Dec. 5, 505 schools, colleges and universities requested kits.
“The opioid epidemic and overdose crisis impacts every community in Oregon. While overdose events on school property are rare, our school communities should be prepared to respond to an overdose medical emergency,” said Ebony Clarke, OHA’s director of behavioral health.
Every middle and high school is eligible to receive three kits. Kits consist of a wall-mounted naloxone box, instructions, emergency medical supplies and eight doses of naloxone nasal spray.
Salem-Keizer Public Schools are among those that made requests. All SKPS schools have had Narcan (a brand name naloxone) available as an emergency resource for school nurses and security personnel for approximately two years, according to SKPS Communications Manager Emily Reverman.
Naloxone can restore breathing while waiting for emergency medical personnel.
According to the OHA, an average of three Oregonians die each day from accidental overdoses.
The project, funded by Oregon’s Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board, is an expansion to the Save Lives Oregon Initiative’s Harm Reduction Clearinghouse Project.
SLO Clearinghouse started during COVID to provide naloxone and other supplies to agencies working directly with those at risk of overdose at no cost. Since 2022, they have distributed more than 335,500 doses, according to OHA estimates.