« Responding to and Preventing Sexual Violence Must Be Higher Priority for K-12, Experts Tell Lawmakers | Main | An Effort to Stop Student Drug Use That Starts With a Simple Conversation at School »

Trump Declares Opioid Abuse a Public Health Emergency. It's a Crisis for Schools, Too

| No comments

President Donald Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency Thursday, a move that is more limited than his August pledge to declare a national emergency over deaths caused by abuse of the drug.

More than 2 million Americans had an opioid addiction in 2016, the White House said, and more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses since 2000.

"Nobody has ever seen anything like what is happening now," Trump said from the White House.

The epidemic, which has strained resources for public services and law enforcement agencies, has also created challenges for schools, Education Week has reported. Those include supporting the children of addicted parents who've been placed in foster care, stocking overdose medications in school nurses offices, and rethinking drug prevention programs to address prescription medications and synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

A White House task force on opioids, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, had recommended the national emergency declaration. The group also pushed for exploration of "evidence-based prevention programs for schools, and tools for teachers and parents to enhance youth knowledge of the dangers of drug use, as well as early intervention strategies for children with environmental and individual risk factors (trauma, foster care, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and developmental disorders)."

"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place," Trump said. "If they don't start, they won't have a problem."

The public health crisis declaration removes some red tape and allows some federal grants to be more easily directed toward opioid treatment. But it's more limited than Trump's original pledge to declare a national emergency, which would have allowed for a more rapid targeting of federal resources to the problem. Some federal officials had said the broader declaration is more appropriate for natural disasters that affect specific geographic areas.

Trump's action also doesn't come with any new, designated funding to combat opioid use. That drew criticism from lawmakers like Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat who has pushed for passage of a bill that would direct $45 billion to prevention and treatment efforts over 10 years.

Education Week reported earlier this year on how schools are helping children whose families have been affected by opioid abuse.


Related reading on opioids and schools:

Follow @evieblad on Twitter or subscribe to Rules for Engagement to get blog posts delivered directly to your inbox. 

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments