TRENTON – Responding to the opioid crisis in New Jersey, Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Christopher K. Bateman sponsored legislation to make lifesaving opioid antidotes, such as Narcan, available in schools in the state and to have nurses and other school officials trained to administer it in the event of an overdose. The bill was approved today by the Senate Education Committee.
“No community is immune to the tragic opioid epidemic plaguing our state,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “If having an opioid antidote available and administrable in schools saves even a single life, this bill will be well worth it. It is not enough to work to prevent opioid addictions; we must also work to reverse the catastrophic effects of the disease once it has taken hold.”
The bill, S-1830, would require governing bodies of public and private schools to develop policies, pursuant to Department of Education guidelines, for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote.
The policy would require any school with grades 9, 10, 11, or 12 to obtain a standing order for opioid antidote and maintain a supply of the antidote in a secure and accessible location. Any other school would be permitted to obtain a standing order and keep a supply of the antidote. The school nurse or any trained employee would be permitted to administer an opioid antidote to a student, staff member or anyone who they believe, in good faith, is experiencing an opioid overdose.
The opioid antidotes would have to be accessible in the schools during regular school hours and during school-sponsored functions that take place in the school or on school grounds. School districts could also make opioid antidotes accessible during school-sponsored functions that take place off school grounds.
The school nurse would have the primary responsibility for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote, though additional employees would be designated to administer it in the event that an individual experiences an opioid overdose when the nurse is not present.
The bill was approved by a vote of 5-0 and next goes to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.