Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Opinion | Schools and the state should work together on opioids

Opinion | Schools and the state should work together on opioids

This year, Loudoun County high schools have been the site of fentanyl overdoses by students. When it comes to fentanyl use, schools are neither the cause nor the cure. That truth notwithstanding, the staff at these schools made heroic actions and are why some of these students are still alive. Though the staff should never have had to answer that call, they were prepared.

Still, there is more to the story than overdoses. Teens across Northern Virginia are grappling with the very real cost of addiction. Substance abuse threatens their lives. Our children and families need our help.

Our schools are not equipped to support students who are struggling with addiction. Expanding access to treatment programs, counseling services and in- and outpatient substance-use programs must be a priority. The most pressing need is to make sure that, once the immediate crisis passes, there is help to ensure that it will not occur again.

I have asked Virginia’s Education Department to look into helping us open a recovery school in the Northern Virginia region, and I am advocating for one in every region of our state.

I am also calling on our governor to issue an executive order requiring a collaboration between Virginia’s Health Department, local health departments, and state, regional and local substance-use service providers to step forward and find solutions to both out- and inpatient treatment options for juveniles struggling with addiction in every community in the Commonwealth.

We can and should do better. Our childrens’ lives and futures depend on it.

The writer is superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools.

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