Credit: NEXT Distro / Unsplash

The Santa Barbara Unified school board unanimously approved Narcan in district schools Tuesday night, allowing the district to keep the life-saving opioid antagonist on hand and to train its employees how to administer the drug in the event of an emergency overdose.

As the entire country faces a growing opioid crisis — exacerbated by the availability of highly potent fentanyl — schools have been revising regulations to allow Narcan on campus. Although overdoses are most prevalent among adults ages 25-34, the CDC found that overdose deaths among teens ages 14-18 more than doubled since 2010, breaking into the thousands for the first time ever.

“I’m just really disheartened at the fact that we have to have this in our schools,” said Boardmember Wendy Sims-Moten, adding that the change is “part of reimagining our safety, both mentally and physically.”

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Every member of the board was in support of the change, which would cost about $70 per dose for a total of $382. District high schools will have two doses at each campus, while schools with fewer than 500 students will have one dose. Administering Narcan is a simple process, and the district has already begun training staff on how to use the drug.

“It really is an epidemic here,” said Boardmember Laura Capps, who was supportive of the change in light of the recent rise of overdose deaths in the area. “We’re now looking at close to 200 deaths in the county this year, whereas just a handful of years ago it was more like 25.”

With all boardmembers in agreement, the revision was approved on first reading, and the regulations will be changed immediately without the need for another hearing.

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