Integrating Fentanyl and Opioid Overdoses in K-12 and Higher Ed Emergency Management Planning

As the threat from fentanyl and opioid misuse continues to evolve, it is critical for education agencies to consider the risk posed by fentanyl and opioid overdoses to K-12 schools, school districts, institutions of higher education (IHEs), and their surrounding communities. Fentanyl and opioid overdoses pose a serious threat to school and campus communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 2013, overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, have noticeably increased in the United States. The CDC found that among Americans aged 10-19, overdose deaths increased between 2019 and 2021, with those involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl increasing by 182 percent. School and campus communities may have students and staff who are directly affected by fentanyl and opiod overdoses, or students and staff may be impacted indirectly through parents, guardians, family members, or roommates. The opioid crisis is also evolving. The United States recently designated fentanyl combined with xylazine (a non-opioid tranquilizer approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use) as an emerging threat.

Core planning teams can address fentanyl and opioid overdoses in their emergency operations plans (EOPs). Following the six-step planning process outlined in the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education, and The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans: A Companion to the School Guide, planning teams can develop a Drug Overdose Annex and related functional annexes, such as a Public Health, Medical, and Mental Health Annex. When developing or updating the EOP, planning teams can look at the threat from fentanyl and opioid-related overdoses from the angle of before, during, and after an incident, as well as within the framework of prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. It is also important for planning teams to conduct this work in collaboration with community partners, such as local law enforcement, local public health authorities, county district attorney offices, local representatives of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and community or youth organizations that address substance misuse prevention.

To support core planning teams in integrating this threat in their emergency planning efforts, the REMS TA Center is pleased to share a NEW fact sheet on fentanyl and opioids for K-12 schools, school districts, and IHEs. This fact sheet provides education agencies with information and strategies for addressing fentanyl and opioid overdoses on their campuses through EOPs and other preparedness activities, such as having naloxone on hand for emergency treatment, awareness, and training.

If you have created or use tools and resources to support fentanyl and opioid overdose prevention, please submit them for inclusion in our REMS TA Center Tool Box. To learn more about this critical topic and to find resources you can share with your school or campus community, we encourage you to explore the resources listed below.

Related Resources

You can find resources and more information on this topic from the REMS TA Center and our partners below.

REMS TA Center Resources

Partner Resources

If you have any questions or need additional assistance,
please contact the REMS TA CENTER at 1-855-781-REMS [7367]
or via email at