LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday it will make the anti-overdose medication Narcan available at all of its campuses by mid-October.
The announcement comes in response to recent fentanyl overdoses by students, including the death of a 15-year-old girl in the bathroom of Bernstein High School in Hollywood.
Doses of Narcan, or naloxone, will also be provided to all LAUSD School Police officers, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.
The doses will be provided by the county Department of Public Health at no cost, according to a news release from LAUSD.
Narcan, if administered in a timely manner, can counteract the effects of an overdose and allow the patient to resume breathing. The treatment is only temporary, lasting between 30 and 90 minutes, but is designed to allow first-responders to arrive and begin more permanent treatment.
"Research shows that the availability of naloxone along with overdose education is effective at decreasing overdoses and death - and will save lives," Carvalho said in a statement. "We will do everything in our power to ensure that not another student in our community is a victim to the growing opioid epidemic. Keeping students safe and healthy remains our highest priority."
The superintendent Thursday also announced plans for a district-wide education campaign, including a "peer-to-peer" effort to teach students about the consequences of fentanyl use.
"There is nothing better than a student peer to explain the consequences associated with fentanyl to other students," he said.
He also said the district next week will roll out a massive online and in-person education campaign for parents to allow them to recognize the signs of drug use and the learn about the effects of fentanyl. He said the campaign will be done in multiple languages, "hitting every area of our district."
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The district also plans to roll out a safety task forced that will work with school police and other local law enforcement to provide a "greater level of supervision" in parks and other areas where students are believed to be obtaining drugs.
"The opioid epidemic is a community crisis, and today Los Angeles Unified is taking concrete action to protect our students - both by making naloxone readily available and through proactive education and support," Board President Kelly Gonez said in a statement. "Our Board and Superintendent are committed to doing everything we can to ensure student safety on our campuses and in our communities."
The powerful opioid fentanyl has been showing up in marijuana, illicit pills and other substances accessible to school-age children, experts say.
In addition to a nasal spray, naloxone can also be given as an injection.
City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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