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Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
June 7, 2024 - 3 minutes
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Opinion

Parents have a right to know within 24 hours of fentanyl overdoses in Virginia’s schools

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network. This piece originally appeared on Washington Examiner.


Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing there were 2,339 reported overdose deaths in Virginia from December 2022 to December 2023. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of unnatural death in the state. As fentanyl flows over our porous southern border, the drug is stealing the lives of not only adults, but an increasing number of children across the country.

While the CDC’s data on youth overdose deaths are incomplete from 2023, in 2022, 45 children in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., died of fentanyl overdoses. The number of children ages 12 to 17 who have perished from fentanyl has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. And for every fentanyl death, there are many more fentanyl overdoses that result in the hospitalization of America’s children.

Most of us are acutely aware that we are in a war against fentanyl that knows no boundaries and is coming for our children. But someone needs to tell Virginia’s House Democrats. 

In November 2023, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) issued executive order No. 28 requiring Virginia’s public schools to issue notifications to parents of school-related overdoses within 24 hours. Until Youngkin’s order, the data were not publicly available in many districts, including Fairfax County. In some cases, students were overdosing in public school bathrooms and parents with children at that school had no idea.

Such a notification system should garner bipartisan support. When parents are quickly notified of fentanyl in their schools, they are more aware of its presence and can act accordingly. Given that this is killing our children, it seems logical that we would collaboratively — regardless of political affiliation — want all hands on deck to combat such a dangerous enemy.

Earlier this year, state legislators introduced bills to codify Youngkin’s executive order into state law — likely because liberal school districts, such as Fairfax County, have a history of completely ignoring the governor’s executive orders and model policies.

Last month, Virginia’s state senators voted unanimously in favor of the bill. But like petulant little children, House Democrats, led by Delegate Holly Seibold, voted against the 24-hour notification window.

Why? It’s unclear. Seibold’s explanation is vague and makes her sound like a cantankerous teenager rebelling against her father. She said, “How we approach these overdoses must be well thought out policy and more than just a governor’s mandate.”

Seibold did not elaborate on why she thought the 24-hour notification was not “well thought out.” And she refused to speak about it with the media. 

If House Democrats do not want to help us legislatively protect our children against fentanyl in public schools, they should at least explain their reasoning. And it should be more profound than clear oppositional defiance that sounds like, “If dad wants it, then I’m against it.”

The Democrats’ objection to notifying parents of fentanyl overdoses within 24 hours is particularly ironic given that in Seibold’s district, Fairfax County’s parents were sent near daily notifications about COVID-19 cases in the schools. Does this mean that House Democrats believe that COVID is more dangerous than fentanyl for children? I certainly hope not, but I would not put it past them.

Likely, this is just another example of Democrats supporting the politically expedient filtering of information to parents from their children’s public schools, to children’s peril.

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
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