KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With drug overdoses on the rise in both Kansas and Missouri, school districts in the Kansas City metro have begun to reevaluate their policies around storing naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.

While some school districts have long maintained NARCAN, a brand of naloxone used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations, others have recently implemented it or are still in the process of discussing whether to make it available. 

“Obtaining Narcan for our schools is a top priority,” said Susan Hiland, director of media and public relations for North Kansas City Schools. 

Data taken from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows overdoses linked to synthetic opiates like fentanyl have increased since July 2019, from 851 overdoses to 1,237 by December 2020, roughly a 45.4% spike.

In Kansas, data from the National Center for Health Statistics predicts synthetic opioid overdoses increased by nearly 153% the following year, from 80 overdoses in March 2020, to 202 overdoses by March 2021.

Elle Moxley, public relations coordinator for Kansas City Public Schools, said the district allows school nurses and trained employees to administer emergency medications in life-threatening situations.

“Examples of emergency medications include prefilled epinephrine auto syringe (EpiPens), rescue inhalers/asthma-related medications and opioid antagonists such as naloxone,” she said in an email.

But other school districts, like Blue Valley and Gardner Edgerton in Kansas, said they don’t stock NARCAN because the district is located within close proximity to emergency services.

“We have investigated the possibility; however, we are fortunate to have outstanding EMS teams within two to three minutes of our buildings who can respond, if necessary,” said Ben Boothe, director of community relations for Gardner Edgerton Schools.

How does my school district fare?

FOX4 contacted each Kansas City public school district in the area and asked whether they planned to stock NARCAN in their school buildings.

The majority of school districts in the Kansas City region stated they already maintain naloxone, delegate select staff to distribute it or are in the process of obtaining it, including:

  • Olathe Public Schools
  • Shawnee Mission Schools
  • Lee’s Summit Schools
  • Kansas City Public Schools
  • Park Hill Schools
  • North Kansas City Schools
  • Raymore-Peculiar Schools
  • Fort Osage Schools
  • Spring Hill Schools

A handful of school districts said they evaluated whether to acquire naloxone, but decided not to because the school district is within close proximity to emergency services, including:

  • Gardner Edgerton Schools
  • Blue Valley Schools

A few school districts said no decision has been made on whether to stock NARCAN, including:

  • Kansas City, Kansas Schools
  • Blue Springs Schools

FOX4 contacted the Independence School District for comment at least three times, but did not receive a response.

Naloxone is now available at no cost to high schools through an education grant from the manufacturer of NARCAN.

For elementary and middle schools, the state of Kansas allows school nurses to dispense naloxone at their discretion to patients, which schools can obtain through a pharmacist who has signed the statewide naloxone protocol, according to K-TRACS

In Missouri, schools and universities qualify to purchase NARCAN Nasal Spray at a reduced public interest rate, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website contains more information on naloxone and how it works.