Student finds packet of fentanyl outside elementary school in Nanaimo

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District is considering updating safety protocols after an elementary student found a bag containing fentanyl on campus.

According to a letter sent to parents over the weekend by École Quarterway principal Arlette Begoum-Kaké, a “small packet of a suspicious substance” was found after school on Friday, April 14.

The student immediately notified a parent who suspected the package might contain drugs and contacted authorities for testing. It was confirmed that the contents were fentanyl.

“Thankfully, the children and their families are well, however, it is critical that we all take appropriate safety precautions when handling hazardous materials,” Begoum-Kaké said in the letter.

She said the school is working with the Nanaimo RCMP and school staff have arranged to clean the grounds in the morning. The letter also reminds students not to handle anything that may be dangerous and to contact an adult or call 911 immediately.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools spokesman Dale Burgos said SD68 is pleased no one has been harmed by accidental ingestion of the substance.

“We’re reminding students at the school today that if they do find something that may be harmful – whether it’s a substance, backpack or bag found anywhere on or near the school – leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t touch it. Let a school teacher or responsible adult know. If that doesn’t work, call the police or call 911 and never dispose of these packages or items yourself.”

Reservation Constant Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Gary O’Brien said police will respond to calls to collect suspicious substances.

“You have to be very, very careful when handling fentanyl,” O’Brien said. “Put on gloves, pick it up with something like a pole, put it in a bin bag and contact the police and we’ll deal with it accordingly.”

Such incidents are rare, Burgos said. It has been several years since needles were found in the Comox park near the École Pauline Haarer.

“It’s been many years since we’ve had to deal with something like this,” he said.

Burgos said the district is working with schools to determine if spot inspections can be conducted each morning.

“It’s not just this school,” he said. “We make sure every school is checked. I can tell you that our principal walks around the school every day to make sure the safety of our students and staff is addressed, whether a person may be sleeping in a corner of the school – maybe At the gate — or whatever remains on campus … principals often ask for additional support, and that’s what the conversation is about this week.”

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