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Denver Public Schools to provide naloxone, training to middle, high school nurses

Posted at 9:52 PM, Oct 12, 2022

DENVER — Beginning Monday, Denver Public Schools will provide naloxone, a medicine that reverses opioid overdoses, and administration training to nurses in its middle and high schools.

"Just as we have AEDs available and EpiPens available in our health offices, we want to ensure that we have naloxone available now for our nurses in the off-chance that we have an emergency," said Julie Rottier-Lukens with DPS. "We're hoping that we can be as prepared as possible."

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) told Denver7 as of October 1, DPS is one of 70 school districts requesting naloxone kits from the state'sNaloxone Bulk Purchase Fund. Of those 70 districts, CDPHE said 26 districts had received kits.

The fund was created through a bill passed by the state legislature three years ago and allows eligible groups to receive this life-saving treatment at little to no cost.

Six months ago, only 14 Colorado school districts had requested naloxone kits, according to data provided by CDPHE in April.

The five-fold increase in requests indicates an expounded awareness, harm reduction experts say.

"Fentanyl overdose deaths are common enough that people's attention is now very high," University of Colorado professor Robert Valuck said. "Some places are now starting to either contemplate or move from contemplation into action to co-locate naloxone with the AEDs."

DPS parent and area physician, Dr. Rachel Gray, was pleased to learn of DPS' naloxone launch.

"It's increasingly more and more accessible in the communities, and it's about time that the schools have it," Gray said. "Those sorts of drugs are available and to our young kids in Denver. [Schools] need to have access to these quick-acting reversal agents, and it could definitely save a life."

In September, the FDA made it easier for harm reduction groups to access naloxone, essentially removing the red tape by exempting naloxone distribution from some tracing rules.