(The Center Square) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued his 28th executive order late Tuesday evening in response to nine overdoses at Loudoun County’s Park View High School in October.
The governor disclosed in the order that the Loudoun County Public School division “reportedly waited more than 20 days to inform parents” of one or more of the overdoses “despite clear evidence of numerous incidents of overdose among students.”
In light of this, the governor’s first directive to the Virginia Department of Education was in line with one of his strongest policy themes: The role of parents in education, and in this case, their children’s lives at school.
“Parents have a right to know what’s going on in their child’s lives, especially in schools,” Youngkin said in a statement. “School administrators’ first instinct when there is a problem cannot be to delay relevant information on critical children’s health and safety matters – it must be passed on immediately.”
The Virginia Department of Education is to issue guidance requiring parental notification of overdose-related incidents within 24 hours and on how schools can work together with law enforcement to prevent student overdoses. Lastly, the department must work to inform schools and parents of educational programs that teach students how and why to avoid illicit drugs.
The chemical culprit in the case of all nine Park View overdoses was counterfeit Percocet, which is often found in the form of a little blue pill stamped “M30,” made to look like 30 mg Percocet. The students likely believed they were taking pain killers when, instead, they were taking fentanyl.
Narcan, an opioid-reversing agent, was administered to three students whose overdoses happened on school grounds; two of those students also required CPR to resuscitate them fully.
“LCPS is taking active steps to support our students, families and staff with fentanyl awareness and education, including training and supplying staff in each of our high schools with Naloxone for emergencies,” said Aaron Spence, LCPS Superintendent, in a statement.
Park View is pouring much of its resources into assemblies and parent meetings this week, offering support and doubling down on its messaging regarding the dangers of trading pills and fentanyl’s covert presence in other substances.
That presence has only increased since it first began turning up in prescription pills in the U.S. Seven of every 10 pills the Drug Enforcement Administration seizes contain a lethal dose of fentanyl, according to its One Pill Can Kill campaign, up from four out of 10 in 2021. A lethal dose for some is two mg, which is equivalent to a few grains of salt.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is discussing further security and administrative measures with the school as it investigates the incidents.
“Including these recent overdoses at Park View, the LCSO has investigated 18 reports of opioid overdoses of Loudoun County juveniles this year,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
The office investigated 19 similar reports in 2022.