Just one week before International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held on August 31st every year to raise awareness of the drug overdoses, Governor Murphy signed into law A.542 -- which requires public and private high schools across New Jersey to have opioid antidotes (such as Narcan) ready and available for use.
The new law, which goes into effect on December 1, 2018, mandates that schools must maintain such quantities and types of opioid antidotes as deemed adequate by their Boards of Education. The supply of 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. Each district has the discretion whether to make opioid antidotes accessible during school-sponsored functions that take place off school grounds.
The law further mandates that all public school districts, charter schools, and private schools develop a policy “for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote to a student, staff member, or other person who is experiencing an opioid overdose.”
The policy must require that any school, which includes students from ninth through twelfth grade, obtain a standing order for opioid antidotes and maintain a supply of opioid antidotes in a secure, but unlocked and easily accessible location. Schools that do not include ninth through twelfth graders are permitted, but are not required, to keep a supply of opioid antidotes at hand.
The policy must also permit the school nurse, or a designated and trained employee, to administer opioid antidotes to anyone whom the nurse or trained employee believes is experiencing an opioid overdose.
In addition, the policy must require that the overdose victim be transported by emergency services personnel to a hospital emergency room after the administration of an opioid antidote, even if the victim’s symptoms appear to have resolved.
The Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Human Services and appropriate medical experts, is to establish guidelines for the development of a district’s opioid overdose policy.
Although school districts and personnel are provided with limited immunity for actions or omissions in compliance with the new law, in an increasingly litigious environment, Boards of Education would be well advised to consult with their board attorneys.
For more information and guidance on this topic, please contact the attorneys in Parker McCay’s
Public Schools and Education Department. The content of this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion. You should consult a lawyer concerning your specific situation and any specific legal question you may have.