HAYS COUNTY, Texas — As summer wraps up and school begins, the total death count of students from fentanyl poisoning this summer continues to rise.

An autopsy has revealed that yet another Hays County student has died of fentanyl overdose. The 15-year-old died in early July. He marks the fourth student in the school district to die from fentanyl this summer. Two 15-year-old victims and a 17-year-old were from Lehman and Johnson high schools.

Just in the last week, Hays Consolidated Independent School said that at least two of its students had been administered Narcan, which can counteract a drug overdose, by paramedics, first responders or nursing staff. One of the cases is suspected to have taken place on campus and the other at a student’s home.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, making it a major contributor to fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the United States.

Statistics show overdose deaths among teens doubled between 2019 and 2020 — which is attributed to fentanyl — even as the number of teens using drugs has remained steady.

Hays CISD unveiled a fentanyl awareness campaign at a news conference last month. The school district is following up with its first fentanyl education and impact videos on its social media platforms this week. Students in the middle and high schools will be watching these educational videos in class on Friday.

The district is working with local law enforcement and first responders to collaborate on ways to combat the crisis. Narcan is being stocked on all campuses through the school nurses and school resource officers. School leaders also will be working on in-school educational opportunities — assemblies, homeroom discussions and posters — to inform students about the danger of fentanyl.

Superintendent Eric Wright emphasizes that this is not a situation solely confined to Hays County.

“[It’s] not unique to our school district or communities. We, however, choose to confront this crisis with everything in our power, including using our voices to educate and make people aware,” stated Wright.