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Guelph public schools to be equipped with overdose-reversing drug

All Guelph public schools will be equipped with naloxone nasal spray in the 2020-21 school year. File / CKWS News

Every public school in Guelph will soon be equipped with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

On Tuesday, trustees with the Upper Grand District School Board voted in favour of implementing the use of the nasal spray as part of its first aid protocols.

READ MORE: ‘Naloxone saves lives’ — Drop in number of fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta

A report presented to trustees noted that schools are not considered high-risk areas for opioid overdoses, but there are concerning trends within the board and there have been several issues related to opioids in the past two years.

“There have been no overdoses in Upper Grand schools,” the report stated. “However, school staff have expressed concerns about student use of opioids.”

According to the local public health unit, youth in the region between the ages of 15 and 24 experienced the highest rate of opioid-related emergency department visits compared to all other age groups in 2017.

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There were 36 cases that year, and 18 of those cases were between the ages of 15 and 19.

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A committee formed on the issue argued that similar to defibrillators, which are already installed at all schools, the inclusion of naloxone is a proactive response.

The naloxone kits are even being stored in the same boxes that hold the defibrillators because they are visible, located in high-traffic areas and fitted with a built-in alarm.

The kits will be installed at all 76 schools during the 2020-21 school year, as well as the board office in Guelph on Victoria Road. A total of 520 staff members will be provided training on naloxone.

READ MORE: Naloxone use by London police saves 103 lives so far in 2019

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The initial cost is pegged at $29,276 and naloxone has a shelf life of two years. The report stated the cost to replace the kits would be an ongoing budget consideration.

Naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose, but will not cause harm to someone if given in error.