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Student finds packet of fentanyl outside elementary school in Nanaimo

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district discussing stepping up daily safety sweeps of school facilities
Nanaimo Ladysmith school district is looking at beefing up daily safety sweeps at schools after an École Quarterway student found a packet of fentanyl on the school’s grounds Friday, April 15. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district is looking at updating safety protocols after a student at an elementary school found a bag containing fentanyl on the school grounds.

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

The student informed a parent right away who suspected the packet might contain drugs, and contacted authorities to have it tested. The contents proved to be fentanyl.

“Thankfully, the child and their family are fine, however, it is vitally important that we all follow proper safety measures when dealing with harmful substances,” Begoum-Kaké said in the letter.

She said the school is working with Nanaimo RCMP, and school staff have arranged for morning sweeps of the grounds. The letter also reminded students not to handle anything that might be dangerous and to contact an adult immediately or call 911.

Dale Burgos, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools spokesperson, said SD68 is happy no one was harmed by accidentally ingesting the substance.

“We’re reminding students at the school today that if they do find something potentially harmful – whether it’s a substance or a backpack or bag that’s just found on school grounds or anywhere near the school – to leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t touch it. Let a teacher or responsible adult at the school know. If that’s not an option, call the police or call 911 and definitely don’t handle these packets or items yourself.”

Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said police will respond to collect suspicious substances when called.

“You have to be very, very careful with handling fentanyl,” O’Brien said. “Wear gloves, pick it up with a pole or something, put it into a garbage bag and then contact the police and we’ll dispose of it accordingly.”

Burgos said incidents like this are rare. It has been several years since needles were found in Comox Park near École Pauline Haarer.

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

READ ALSO: Next steps being taken after parent’s needle concerns near school

Burgos said the school district is working with the school to determine if site checks can be done every morning.

“It wouldn’t be just this school,” he said. “We want to make sure that every school is checked. I can tell you that our principals, on a daily basis, do rounds around the schools to make sure that the safety of our students and staff are addressed, whether it’s a person possibly sleeping in a corner of a school – in a doorway perhaps – or anything that’s left on the school grounds … Oftentimes principals ask for extra support and that’s what the conversations are this week.”

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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