LEBANON, Ind. - School leaders have been closely watching the opioid epidemic for quite some time.
Now, they think its gotten to a point that something needs to be done to help further protect students at school, and are working to write a new policy that would give staff at each school the life-saving drug if it's needed.
According to recently-launched website by the State of Indiana, NextLevel Recovery, Boone County had 13 opioid-related deaths in 2016, which is double the amount it's had in any other year.
The website provides data dating back to 2008.
"We realized that as a school system, we are reflective of those behaviors that are evident in our community," said Dr. Robert Taylor, the superintendent at Lebanon Community Schools.
Lebanon police were not available to give figures on the opioid crisis in the community, but three officers there were honored this week with life saving pins after using naloxone to save three people from overdoses.
This week, the district's school board approved a decision to let Taylor and other leaders come up with a policy that would be reviewed by the end of the year. It would be placed at each of the district's school buildings.
"The training, the storage, the security, the process and procedures of engaging other community agencies that would be involved in the event of a catastrophe of this nature," Taylor said about the policy that's going to get written. "It will be well spelled out and well understood before we start it."
Taylor said a first draft would likely be taken to the school board in November, which would also allow for public comment. A final draft of the policy could get approval by January 1, which would equip school staff with the life-saving drug.
The superintendent said its the latest measure of school safety. “A decade ago, we would think schools and churches are the safest institutes in America and sadly, we have discovered churches and schools are not immune from violence," he said. "This option needs to be explored."
It's not the first district to look at getting naloxone in schools.
According to Deb Miller, the director of the Henry County Health Department of Nursing, staff at three of the county's five public school districts are now trained to administer the drug.
It's a program that began this school year. Staff getting training included:
- School nurses
- School administrators and office staff
- Athletic directors
County leaders wanted the drug made more available after hearing about Narcan, a brand of naloxone, was used to save a student at a Bartholomew County school.
Lebanon leaders want to be equally prepared.
“In life-saving situations, we’re not talking minutes, but seconds," said Taylor. "If we can become more efficient and more effective in how we apply those life-saving techniques to real-life situations, then that’s why it becomes paramount we do the best we can to ensure that we now take opportunity of saving a child down from minutes to seconds if necessary.”
School leaders at Western Boone County Community School District and Zionsville Community Schools each said their school resource officers are equipped with the drug and are in each of the district's school buildings. Neither said they had plans to train school staff.