A new law makes language governing the use of opioid overdose reversal drugs by school nurses less ambiguous. But Roanoke public school nurses have already stocked up on naloxone in the event of an emergency situation.
"We have a strong prevention council in Roanoke County and we collect data on substance abuse issues with our students and have for years. So based on that, I think we were just a step ahead," says Jessica McClung, assistant superintendent with Roanoke County Public Schools.
The Roanoke County school district began stocking Narcan for emergency use in its high schools in the spring of 2017.
"We worked with our school board attorneys to make sure we were very thorough in our planning process and putting this together," says McClung.
According to a school district spokesperson, the district was the first school system in the Commonwealth to stock the opioid reversal drug. And just this past fall, Roanoke City schools, working with Carilion, also began storing Nalaxone in all of its schools.
"Sometimes young children can get into things at home and even get ino parents' prescription medications and things like that," says Ellen Carroll, student health manager with Carilion Clinic.
Carroll says local EMS has quick response times to city schools, but the measure was implemented as an extra precaution.
"The problem is what if that happens to be the one day there's a big wreck on 581 and EMA can't get there within five minutes," says Carrpll.
Both school districts say they have yet to use the drug.
"I do believe that when you have a plan in place you're better prepared for the what-ifs and I feel confident that our schools have the tools available to be able to handle that should it happen in our buildings," says McClung.
Roanoke County has hosted a series of community meetings on substance abuse issues. The next will be held on March 25th at Northside High School.