A group of parents at Ecole Quarterway Elementary School in Nanaimo searched the school grounds for left behind drug paraphernalia, and what they found has left them worried.
“It was really shocking,” said Kara Walsh. “Our children’s safety is the absolute most important thing. I’m getting a little bit emotional here because it’s scary.”
The searches started after what happened at the school last week when a five-year-old student found a bag on the school grounds and decided to bring it home.
Fortunately, her mother noticed it before her daughter opened it, with her two-year-old brother nearby.
Andrea Miller got it tested and found it contained fentanyl and benzodiazepines.
“If the kids had ingested it, it would’ve been fatal before help could’ve got to them,” said Miller in an interview April 18.
The discovery led four parents to conduct a search of some shrubs near the school on Tuesday, right where children often play.
They found more baggies with drug residue, an uncapped needle, and a broken glass pipe, among other things.
“I’m so so grateful to our group of parents who came out to clean it up because I can’t imagine if somebody got seriously hurt,” said Walsh.
The Executive Director of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District said the district is taking the issue seriously.
“Extremely troubling that paraphernalia like this is being found on grounds. It’s not new though. It has been an ongoing epidemic,” said Dale Burgos.
Burgos said the school district is in close contact with the school and parent community.
“We do know about the issues and we do have staff that clean schools regularly. We have principals that walk the school every day. However, it is clear that some things do get missed once in a while,” said Burgos.
The school district says it’s going to install cameras, put up extra signage and step up patrols of the school grounds.
Walsh said student safety should be paramount on school grounds and this isn’t just an issue at Ecole Quarterway.
“It’s happening all over our city and it’s heartbreaking.”
The parents say they will be writing all levels of government about the need to keep children safe and to address the mental health and addictions pandemic that’s at the root of the issue.
They’re urging others to do the same.