Important Message about Fentanyl

 

Dear LCPS Families, 

 

I want to address the community about the prevalence of Fentanyl in some of our schools and communities. The use of this powerful, synthetic opioid is affecting young people across the nation, and sadly our LCPS students are no exception. 

 

To date this school year, our records indicate LCPS has had 10 suspected overdoses across six of our high schools. This is based on a definition that includes: they receive medical treatment for suspected overdose that includes Narcan, medical transport, and/or CPR. In this case, what this means is 10 students were transported for treatment of symptoms related to a suspected opioid overdose and four of those 10 students had one or more doses of Naloxone administered (three students at Park View High School and one student at Dominion High School have had Naloxone administered). The six schools where suspected overdoses have taken place are Broad Run, Briar Woods, Dominion, Loudoun County, Park View, and Tuscarora High Schools.  For comparison’s sake, four incidents required naloxone administration to students during the entire 22/23 school year. This number is concerning and distressing, and we will do everything in our power to ensure this does not continue. Please know that we take this issue seriously. We have processes in our schools for screening students suspected of drug use. Every time we become aware of suspected drug use or an overdose in our schools, we work directly with our parents and with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office to investigate and address the incident.  And we will continue to collaborate with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office as well as other agencies to identify needed resources and supports for all of our schools.  

 

Of course, this isn't just a school issue--this is a local, state and national issue.  Schools reflect what is occurring in the community at large, which means this epidemic goes beyond our school walls.  While it is often difficult to say exactly where students are getting these drugs and using them, we do know that some of these students are ingesting drugs prior to school and suffering the effects while in school. We are also hearing reports of young people experiencing drug related medical emergencies outside of school. As I shared as part of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office media release yesterday, when students come to school we want them to learn and thrive. But, most of all we want them to be safe. Our staff and first responders are working together in critical situations to do everything they can to meet the crisis. That said, we cannot do it alone, and we need your help. 

 

Please talk with your children, teens and young people about the dangers of Fentanyl. Please talk with them about the dangers of taking any substance not authorized by their own parent, guardian or doctor. A recent DEA public health alert notes that “laboratory testing indicates 7 out of every 10 pills seized by DEA contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.” Learn more at https://www.dea.gov/onepill

 

Fentanyl is often added to other drugs that look like legitimate prescription opioids (e.g., Xanax, Adderall, Percocet or oxycodone), or mixed into powders or nasal sprays. (US Drug Enforcement Administration)

 

LCPS is taking several steps to support our students, staff and community. 

  1. Naloxone. We want to let you know that LCPS has Naloxone available at every secondary school in the division (high schools and middle schools). Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. LCPS employees are trained to administer this medication and all School Resource Officers for Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Leesburg Police Department carry it as well.
  2. Community Educational Events. Please check our LCPS calendar. 
    1. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office will host an informational session this Saturday, Nov.4, 2023, at 10:30 a.m., Park View High School, about fentanyl that will include education on how to administer Naloxone. 
    2. We are currently working with Loudoun County Mental Health and The Williams Center for school and community-based events. Dates, times and community locations are forthcoming.
  3. Extra Security Presence. We are working with our law enforcement partners to maintain extra security on our campuses and we have added LCPS Safety & Security support. 

 

Please visit the LCPS Drug Awareness webpage to find information and resources to help you understand more and speak with your student about the dangers associated with Fentanyl. 

And, please call local law enforcement if you or your student have seen these pills. Speaking up may save someone’s life. You can also contact the Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services to get help for a friend or loved one struggling with substance abuse.

 

We appreciate your support as we work together to keep our students safe and healthy.


Below you will also find additional information. 

 

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery. Under the supervision of a licensed medical professional, fentanyl has legitimate medical use. However, illicit fentanyl is illegally made and sold as a powder, pills, liquid or nasal spray. Other drug products like marijuana, cocaine, heroin or unlawfully sold medications thought to be prescription medicine may be laced with illicit fentanyl without the user's knowledge. A dose of fentanyl the size of the tip of a pencil is considered a lethal amount. 

 

What can we do?

We encourage families to communicate the dangers of fentanyl to your children and review the resources provided below. Please also consider: 

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of drugs and opioids by having regular and open conversations to discuss the risks. Educate them that ANY pill received from a friend, or purchased online, or on the street may be counterfeit and could contain fentanyl.
  • Reinforce that they should only take pills prescribed by a physician and filled at a pharmacy. Tell them that pills prescribed to them should always remain in their possession.
  • If you have concerns about your child, please reach out to your school’s student assistance specialist. 

 

LCPS actions & resources:

  • Students learn about the dangers of drug and opioid use during health class.
  • Student assistance specialists (SASs) have expertise in the mental health and substance-use fields. As members of the Unified Mental Health Team at the secondary level, student assistance specialists provide educational presentations for students and parents, individualized and group support, referral services, coordination with providers, staff development and consultation with parents and staff.
  • LCPS has a drug awareness webpage with resources that can help.

 

Loudoun County Resources:

 

Websites:

 

Take care of yourselves and each other, 

Superintendent Aaron Spence, Ed. D. 

 

Published on November 1, 2023