TRENTON – Responding to the opioid crisis in New Jersey, Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz sponsored legislation to make the lifesaving opioid antidote 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.
“Our state is plagued by an epidemic that is resulting in tragic loss of life, and no community is immune,” said Senator Ruiz. “If we can save a life by having Narcan available in schools and nurses and others trained to use it, this is action we must take. This is part of the overall effort to address this crisis in our state and to put practices in place that will not only prevent addiction but will give us an opportunity to reverse the catastrophic effects of the disease once it has taken hold.”
The bill (S2635) would require school districts to develop policies, pursuant to Department of Education guidelines, for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote.
The policy will: (1) require a school that includes any of the grades nine through 12, and permit any other school, to obtain a standing order for opioid antidotes and to maintain a supply of opioid antidotes in a secure and easily accessible location; and (2) permit the school nurse or trained employees to administer an opioid antidote to a student, staff member or anyone whom the nurse or trained employee in good faith believes is experiencing an opioid overdose.
The opioid antidotes must be accessible in the school during regular school hours and during school-sponsored functions that take place in the school or on school grounds adjacent to the school building. 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 4-0. It next goes to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.