A student from the Eliot School in the North End – where many Charlestown students attend – was apparently struck with a discarded drug needle in a North End park after school last week, bringing the opiate crisis to the front door of many families in the neighborhood.
In a letter to families on Monday, Principal Traci Griffith relayed the facts of the incident, which happened at the Paul Revere (a/k/a The Prado) Mall behind the Eliot’s Charter Street lower school building.
“Unfortunately, an incident that occurred last week is bringing this issue close to home,” read the letter. “We have been informed that an Eliot student came in contact with a hypodermic needle after school hours at the Paul Revere Mall, which is commonly known as ‘The Prado’ and is located directly behind our Charter Street school building. While this incident did not occur during school hours, we will provide any support necessary for the student.”
It is the second high-profile needle stick of a student in a park or playground in Boston over the past 12 months. An elementary school student was stuck with a discarded drug needle while playing on the school playground of the Orchard Gardens Elementary School last year – a school that has struggled to bring attention to the plight of frequent drug needle encounters at their school. The school continues to struggle with getting the proper resources to make sure their school grounds are free from needles.
To date, such things had not spread to schools in Charlestown or the North End.
Now, with this incident, Griffith said parents need to begin to educate their children on the national opioid crisis, and what the needles are about, as well what to do if children see them.
“In the Boston Public Schools, there is no more important cause than ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our students,” she wrote. “With the opioid crisis being a national challenge that affects every community in the country, we must do all we can to educate our children about the dangers of coming into contact with discarded hypodermic needles.”
She said the school is in constant contact with the City, including the Boston Police, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the Boston Parks Department. She said they have informed all agencies of their concerns, and are doing everything they can to get the City’s Mobile Sharps Unit – which collects needles and sweeps parks for needles – to pay attention to the parks near the school.
She advised that if children or an adult sees a discarded drug needle in a public area, they should call 3-1-1.
The identity and age of the student from the Eliot was not disclosed.