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Hartford Public Schools to host a town hall on substance abuse awareness and prevention

This is coming in wake of a drug-related death of a 13-year-old student.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Hartford Public Schools is hosting a virtual family town hall this weekend to discuss substance abuse awareness and prevention. This comes a little more than a week after a 13-year-old student died from a suspected fentanyl overdose at the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy.

“I worry for [my son] going here because you never know what could happen. I know the kids are still scared, and they’ve been really good though. They have counselors on hand," said parent Joan Santacroce.

Police say two other students who were also exposed to the drug were treated and released from the hospital. Police ended up finding 40 bags of fentanyl at the school

RELATED: Connecticut boy's overdose death renews call for Narcan in US schools
“It’s hard to process it because you don’t think it’s going to happen to a kid that age," said Santacroce.

The town hall is a partnership with Connecticut Children's, the Hartford Police Department, and Hartford HealthCare.

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“After the tragedy that occurred in the school, I think it really has started generating a conversation that we don’t often have," said  Dr. Melissa Santos, Division Chief of Pediatric Psychology at Connecticut Children’s.

Santos will share advice at the town hall about how to start the conversation around drug use with kids at an early age.

“The more that families can have those opportunities at home where they can have safe time dedicated to really listen to their children. One of the most frustrating things teenagers tell me all the time is my mom or dad will ask me how things are going but they ask me while they’re washing dishes or eating food and then I try telling them and they brush me off or tell me don’t worry about it," said Santos.

RELATED: 13-year-old Hartford student who came into contact with fentanyl has died, officials say

Another part of the discussion will focus on substance abuse and opioid identification and what parents need to look out for.

“It’s really been eye-opening for people to see kind of what this really looks like and in some respects, how easy it is to get," said Dr. Santos.

The town hall will take place on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in English with simultaneous Spanish interpretation.

You will learn about:

  • Substance and opioid identification, awareness, and prevention
  • How to have behaviorally-appropriate conversations
  • How to support children and youth

Watch the Livestream at: hartfordschools.org/TownHall

The Town Hall will be conducted again Saturday, Jan. 29, from10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at abavaro@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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