As the nation grapples with rising overdoses due to the synthetic opioid fentanyl, administrators at two Highland Lakes school districts have issued warnings and drafted measures to protect their students against the drug.
“We’re in the process of putting together talking points of how we want to discuss this with middle and high school students,” said MFISD Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen. “We’re going to do some education with our students, but we want to make sure it’s appropriate with their age and grade level.”
Strong relationships with local law enforcement play a major role in the districts’ fight against drug use.
“Our (school resource officers) are Burnet (Police Department) officers who are present daily on campuses and part of our routine operations,” said Rachel Jones, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Introduction at BCISD. “Not only do they provide an effective law enforcement presence, but they also participate in the education of students through occasional classroom presentations.”
Superintendent Allen warned MFISD parents in a media release on Aug. 25 about the dangerous drug and encouraged them to take an active role in helping prevent student drug use.
“We are talking to parents and asking parents to talk to their children,” he said. “We want to increase the level of education about this issue within our community.”
Similarly, BCISD also believes parents are oftentimes the best resources to ward off on-campus narcotics.
“Parents are the most important adult relationships in a student’s life, and actions can have a profound affect on the decisions that students make,” said Jones of BCISD. “As students get older and become more independent, they still need parental oversight and boundaries.”
She urged parents to monitor their children’s social media content and internet use. They should also know their child’s friends and where they spend time outside of school.
“Other things parents can watch for are changes to moods, sleeping habits, school performance, and spending habits,” Jones said.
Even though these changes don’t always indicate illicit drug use, they can sometimes demonstrate a child’s need for adult direction, she continued.
BCISD has also relied on campus programs such as Say Something, an app that encourages students to anonymously report suspicious activity, including drug use, to campus administrators.
“Our students have been diligent to report concerns about their friends’ activities after the school day so that appropriate precautions or actions can be taken by law enforcement or by school officials the next school day,” Jones said.