Fight Against Fentanyl: Desert School Districts Taking Steps to Ensure Safety on Campuses

Carmela Karcher

“Drugs are finding their way to our kids. There are drugs in our middle schools, and certainly in our high schools,” Mike Hestrin, Riverside County District Attorney, shared. “I think that the school districts are waking up to this.”

Palm Springs Unified School District is one of them.

Two weeks ago, PSUSD became the first district in the desert to provide doses of Narcan sprays to all of its 28 schools. 

But this was months in the making.

“A few months ago, one of our board members told the story at one of the board meetings about a dear friend of hers who had passed away from fentanyl,” Laura Dyson, Director of Health Services at PSUSD, explained. “So at the direction of Dr. Swize, our superintendent, we decided to push forward with getting Narcan on each of our campuses, which is the opioid antagonist that can help in the case of an overdose. We’re really proud to say that we’ve put Narcan onto every single campus and trained staff members across every single one of our campuses on how to use this medication.”

Now, each campus has at least two doses of Narcan attached to their portable AEDs.

Select staff have already been trained on how to use these sprays, but their goal is to get as many people prepared as possible. 

“We’ve opened it up to select administrators, and anybody really, that’ll do it,” Dyson continued. “So, I’ve got trainings coming up on October 12 and November 2 for any volunteers or anybody that would like to learn how to give it right.”

This drug is ever changing and now reports of rainbow fentanyl are coming into the light.

With Halloween right around the corner, Dyson wants parents to be aware.

“It looks like candy,” she said. “It looks like Smarties or it looks like some of the most common candies and so we just want parents to be aware.”

And so does the District Attorney.

“I tell my own kids, you cannot take a single pill that was not prescribed to you by your doctor, because you have to assume that it has fentanyl in it,” Hestrin said. “It’s not too young to say, look, someone someday may offer you something, you can’t take it.”

Coachella Valley and Desert Sands Unified School Districts are also taking action.

On September 30, DSUSD sent out a message to families saying they are in the process of getting Narcan to schools and training staff on how to use it.

This week, CVUSD will do the same. 

Coachella Valley Unified is going to take up this issue of training staff on how to use the spray in their board meeting this Thursday.

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