SD73 offers support to staff, students grieving loss of Kamloops high school student - InfoNews

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SD73 offers support to staff, students grieving loss of Kamloops high school student

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June 24, 2020 - 6:30 AM

Students and staff at Westsyde Secondary School are encouraged to use emotional support resources after the accidental overdose death of a 15-year-old student.

The female student died on Friday of a suspected overdose. The B.C. Coroners Service continues to investigate.

Alison Sidow, superintendent with School District 73, expressed her sympathies to the family and friends of the late teen. She says the pandemic has offered teens more free time and she worries it can be an opportunity for them to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

“When kids have opportunities, when kids are feeling peer pressure and when drugs are made available to them, they may choose to explore them and that may have, obviously, devastating effects,” Sidow says. “Drugs are available at a rate we haven’t seen, and they’re more dangerous and young people are at risk if they’re exploring.”

Communication about the tragedy has gone out to families with students at Westsyde Secondary School. Counsellors such as School and Family Consultants and an Aboriginal Family Counsellor will be available on-site throughout the week and when needed.

“We do provide ongoing counselling for any child that requires it,” Sidow says. “It’s often around anniversaries of deaths that our young people and our staff are impacted, so we’re aware of those anniversaries and we often reach out to students and staff who have sought support in the past and offer it again.”

Sidow says the district provides ongoing education on drug and alcohol use through health courses and after-hours sessions available to students and families.

“We have counsellors specifically designated to work with children on issues around drug use and drug misuse. We do have students who are in counselling and in support groups to address how they use drugs and how to reduce harm and that’s obviously a critical piece of work that’s ongoing,” Sidow says.

Sidow hopes that British Columbians adhere to all health and safety regulations set out by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry so that schools can operate regularly again next September.

“The sooner that kids can be engaged in school, the better. I think we all understand that schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of children and families,” Sidow says.

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