State senate considering mandatory school drug screenings

Students would be asked a series of questions about drug use.

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Middle school and high school students could soon be screened for risky drug behavior. The state senate is considering an opioid abuse bill that includes mandatory screenings for students in the seventh and tenth grades.

Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan told 22News he’s been working with the state on this initiative. He said there are no urine or blood tests. Instead, the nurse asks just four or five questions about their drug and alcohol use, all in an effort to start a trusting, confidential relationship with them. That way, the school can monitor any changes in behavior, and students can feel comfortable reporting substance abuse to the school. Sullivan said some schools in Northampton already do this, and some school districts have been screening students for close to 15 years.

“It’s really about making sure that we do early intervention and create that support system for students down the road so I think that the screening and brief intervention that they’re talking about is a real good step forward,” said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.

Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are concerned the screening would infringe on students’ privacy rights. The Senate Ways and Means Committee was expected to report a finalized bill on Friday. The Senate could debate the bill next Thursday.

To read the full proposal, Click Here.

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