Following the fentanyl-related deaths of three Hays CISD students in late July and August, district officials were joined by the Kyle Police Department and San Marcos-Hays County Emergency Medical Services Aug. 24 to discuss the dangers of the drug and what plans are in place to address the epidemic.

Over the summer, two 17-year-old students died from fentanyl overdoses at their homes in Kyle, just weeks before the start of their senior years of high school.

On Aug. 20, a 15-year-old student from San Marcos died from a suspected fentanyl overdose, just days after starting their sophomore year of high school.

“It’s sad to report that we’ve had seven fentanyl-related deaths in the city of Kyle this calendar year and many more that survived,” Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said. “We’re talking about children as young as 14 years old.”

The bedroom community of Kyle has experienced about 60% of growth in the past decade. With that growth comes change, Barnett said. Though there was no way of knowing that the change would be this deadly.

“We can come to the conclusion that these drugs are harming our children and our adults. Our messaging at Kyle PD is multifold,” he said. “First, we want parents to have the conversation with [their] children. Even if you do not think that they’re exposed to illegal drugs, you need to ask them what they see, what they hear ... and give them the coping mechanism to say, ‘no.’”

In recent cases, the pills in question are light blue and are meant to mimic the appearance of Percocet or oxycodone. Barnett added that parents should also be vigilant of their children’s social media.

“People that have these illegal drugs to offer for sale will use code words, and they will use apps on their [cell phone] to enhance their anonymity,” he said. “Be an active parent; be active in your children’s life. Talk to them; give them the help that they need.”

HCISD Superintendent Eric Wright said the nursing staff, counselors, safety and security team, and curriculum and instruction teams are working on a PSA that will be shown to all middle and high school students.

“We are getting local community members who are subject matter experts to participate and help us with that PSA ... to help our students understand the risks, the dangers, the warning signs and really what they can do if they experience it [and] what options they have available to them,” Chief Safety and Security Officer Jeri Skirocki said.

Additionally, all high schools have school resource officers monitoring the campus, and they are all equipped with Narcan, which treats narcotic overdoses. All nurses’ offices throughout the district also have Narcan available.

HCISD Board President Vanessa Petrea said the board is heartbroken at the loss of student lives. The HCISD community has not lost a single student to COVID-19 or gun violence, but the fentanyl overdoses are a call to action, she said.

HCISD officials have created a dedicated page on the district website for information about fentanyl.