Bathrooms closed due to fentanyl overdoses


Photo by Grace Willis

The bathroom on the G floor next to the portables is locked. Whenever a bathroom is locked there is a sign informing students where the next nearest unlocked bathroom is.

With the rise of student overdoses in Montgomery County schools, comes new policies to combat this issue. Security at WJ has begun locking certain bathrooms during the school day in an effort to prevent these events.

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

While they are locked for an important cause, the bathrooms have been an annoyance for students and staff. The bathrooms locked vary daily causing confusion and lengthy walks to find the nearest restroom.

“Some think it is an inconvenience but think about how a student could die if they overdose in the bathroom because 90% of school overdoses happen in bathrooms,” McDonnell said.

This crackdown on bathrooms began at the start of this second semester in response to students misuse of the restrooms, especially the overdose crisis in Montgomery County. There has been an increase in overdoses, mainly in school restrooms at WJ and around the county. Security hopes to alleviate this problem by making the bathrooms less accessible.

However, this situation has some serious drawbacks, especially for students who are just trying to use the restrooms, which is most.

“It is an inconvenience for me and my peers because the next closest bathroom is always at
least a two minute walk away,” senior Olivia McCloskey said.

Teachers too are frustrated by students leaving their classes for long periods of time just because students can’t find an open restroom.

“As a teacher it’s a little annoying that students take longer when they go to the bathroom but it is definitely a worthwhile trade for the safety of students,” Algebra 2 and AP Statistics teacher Laura Brager said.

In addition to locking the bathrooms, security at WJ and in all of Montgomery County have started taking more precautions pertaining fentanyl use. All security guards in Montgomery County have been issued Narcan, an overdose reversing drug, to have on them during the school day in case of emergency.

The bathrooms that are locked vary and it normally depends on events going on in that area. If there is a lot of commotion happening around a certain bathroom, it will most likely be locked.

Security is taking every precaution to prevent student overdoses. Since the beginning of the school year there have been 11 overdoses in school buildings just in Montgomery County. Closing certain bathrooms is just one way that security is attempting to tackle this situation.