Bathroom Policies Change Across the County After Study Finds 90% of School Overdoses Occur in Bathrooms

“When asked why the bathrooms are locked, [WJ] security guard Kelly McDonnell responded in one word, ‘Fentanyl.’”


Grace Willis

Taken from “The Pitch”

Riley Petersen, staff

Walter Johnson High School is following in the footsteps of B-CC, implementing a new policy where they have begun locking bathrooms across the school during the school day. This change at WJ came last week shortly after a Quince Orchard High School student overdosed on fentanyl across the street of the school in the bathroom of the local McDonalds.

This, however, is not a one-off instance; youth fentanyl overdoses in Montgomery County have risen 77% in the past two years according to a Montgomery County Study, with 90% of school overdoses occurring in bathrooms. In The Pitch, the WJ student newspaper, an article conveys this causation: “When asked why the bathrooms are locked, security guard Kelly McDonnell responded in one word: ‘Fentanyl.’”

In early November of this school year, B-CC put a similar policy where security locks different bathrooms throughout the school (see this article for the specifics: Policy Palooza). B-CC students have raised questions about whether or not this policy has proved effective at B-CC: “Administration is pretending to care about it, but this policy has been ineffective and annoying,” said B-CC Class of 2024 President Ryan Maged. WJ senior Vivian Vendt had a similar reaction to the new policy at WJ stating, “It’s just been super annoying because the bathroom lines have become much longer,” adding, “with a school as big as WJ, it takes forever to walk to the next closest bathroom.”

However, while student reactions may be the same, WJ has handled this new policy slightly differently. WJ security has placed signs on bathroom doors whenever a bathroom is locked, informing students of the closest available bathroom. “WJ has invested more time into this policy and it seems really helpful,” explained Maged. Meanwhile, at B-CC, bathrooms are locked with no notice, leaving students with an unpleasant surprise when they attempt to open bathroom doors, forcing them to wander the halls, unaware of which bathrooms could possibly be open.

Bathroom locking isn’t the only new policy Montgomery County schools have put in place to combat the Fentanyl crisis within our student population. All Montgomery County School security guards have been issued Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, to have with them throughout the school day. Following the most recent student overdose just feet away from their school, Quince Orchard High School will also have a change in policy. Quince Orchard will now be changing their open lunch policy.

According to a tweet by QO principal Beth Thomas, “Quince Orchard HS will now have a closed lunch policy for all students in grades 9 and 10. If an 11th or 12th grader wants to leave the property they must show their current school year ID card to school staff. No exceptions.” This newly enforced policy comes in light of the continued safety concerns & disruptive behaviors that have taken place off school property, referring to the overdose incident early last week. 

According to an article published by WUSA9, a MCPS spokesperson reported, “they have administered naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, the medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses, 11 times this school year.”

 Staff and administration across the county are doing everything they can to oppose this deadly issue, including schools such as B-CC and WJ working together to figure out which policies are effective at keeping our students safe.