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Federal bill would let schools use unspent relief funds to combat fentanyl

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Derek Draplin

(The Center Square) – A bill introduced Monday by two Colorado congressmen would allow schools to use unspent COVID-19 relief funds to combat fentanyl.

Under the Protecting Kids from Fentanyl Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., schools would be able to reallocate unspent funds from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to purchase naloxone, train school staff on administering the drug and educate students. 

“Throughout Colorado, fentanyl-related overdoses have increased exponentially, and the impact this crisis has had on families across our state is truly devastating,” Neguse said in a statement. 

The statement cited state health data that said 29 kids died from fentanyl in the 2021-22 school year. There were over 900 deaths from fentanyl overdoses in the state last year.

Neguse added that the legislation “will empower our K-12 schools to tackle this emergency. Everyone – especially our children – deserve to live in a safe community, and this bill helps achieve that goal.”

Lamborn called school fentanyl overdoses “absolutely unacceptable.”

“While overdoses due to fentanyl are becoming more common among our youth, research shows that the availability of naloxone, along with overdose education, is effective at saving lives,” he said. “This legislation will ensure that schools have the prevention tools and education necessary to protect our most vulnerable population from the growing fentanyl epidemic.”