Within the week, Manchester middle and high schools will start carrying the overdose reversal drug Narcan. That’s after the Manchester School Board approved the proposal 10 to 4 Monday night but not after a lengthy discussion.
Measures that were added to the policy include putting the school in lock-down if an overdose occurs on site to having two adults present when the drug is given. It also requires the superintendent to rewrite the policy on elementary schools before the Board votes on it.
But those opposed, including School Board Member Richard Girard, argue having this drug on school grounds sends the wrong message.
“I wonder or not if we undermine the message of schools being drug-free zones by making it possible for someone to be treated for an overdose whether they are a student or someone else on school grounds," Girard told his colleagues Monday.
Girard also argued that at times those given Narcan can become combative, which would put school nurses and students at risk.
Vice Chairman Arthur Beaudry told the board these potential consequences don't outweigh the possibility of losing a life. "I would not want to have any victim down and know that we could have saved a life and we didn't because we were worried about the repercussions - so minute," Beaudry said.
After more than an hour of discussion and several members calling to table the motion until next month's meeting, Mayor Ted Gatsas, urged his colleagues to act now, pointing to the more than 700 people in Manchester who overdosed last year alone.
“I don’t think any of us want to see a tragedy next week or next month because we are still talking about it,” Gatsas said, adding that at first he was against the policy until he heard from students that heroin and opioids are being used in the city schools.
So far no student in New Hampshire has overdosed while in school. Earlier this year Nashua and Berlin approved similar policies.