The Maryland State Department of Education awarded Frederick County Public Schools a $141,459 Heroin and Opioid Policy Development Grant to place more naloxone, an overdose-reversing medication, in schools and to launch a campaign including information on substance abuse.
On Wednesday, the school board voted to accept the grant funding, which will not require any further local funds.
In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Heroin and Opioid Education and Community Action Act of 2017, or the Start Talking Maryland Act, requiring school districts to establish a policy for the administration of naloxone if a student is believed to be experiencing an opioid overdose and to inform the public of its policy. The legislation came in response to recent growing opioid overdose deaths in Maryland.
FCPS placed naloxone in every school in the county starting in the 2017-2018 school year. Now, this grant’s funding will allow FCPS to provide more naloxone in schools and launch a broader informational campaign. The overdose kits are available in public AED cabinets in every school and in every school’s health room, said Jenifer Waters, FCPS Health Services specialist.
Since the legislation passed in 2017, Waters said, “FCPS and FCHD School Health Services collaboratively developed protocols, standing orders, and clinical guidelines to support the use of naloxone in recognition and response to suspected opioid overdose in FCPS schools.” The Board of Education also updated its drug policy.
The cost of supplying schools with naloxone fell on local districts when the act was first passed. FCPS spent about $4,800 to stock all school campuses with naloxone ahead of the 2017-2018 school year. This local funding also paid for the training of school-based health staff and other school personnel on how to administer the overdose-reversing drug.
In his fiscal 2019 budget, however, Gov. Larry Hogan included grant funding to support districts in achieving the requirements of the law. The grants from MSDE total $3 million statewide and will help local districts provide the overdose-reversing drug and adequately notify the public of their drug policy.
Waters said FCPS is working to develop a larger campaign, which would include billboards and materials for families on substance abuse. The district will distribute “Save a Life with Naloxone” posters near the naloxone kits and funding will help make the kits more easily accessible.
“The recently approved grant will greatly enhance our public outreach efforts related to prevention of opioid abuse and overdose as well as access to community resources,” she said. “Additional opioid overdose kits will provide greater access to naloxone during school-sponsored events that take place on school grounds outside of the regular school day.”