Schools finding syringes

Drug syringes on school grounds have become a serious problem in Penticton, according to the Okanagan-Skaha School District.

There have been several reports of needles discovered on school grounds, with the issue persisting as children return to class.

"We have gone out and purchased sharps kits, so that if our maintenance staff are picking them up, we have a safer procedure so that they can safely handle the syringes," said director of facilities Doug Gorcak, at Monday’s board meeting.

"We also purchased some puncture proof gloves."

Gorcak said in the past, they would typically deal with two needles a year. This year, more than 100 have already been recovered from school property.

Superintendent Wendy Hyer said she has spoken with Interior Health about the issue.

"Their harm reduction team is going to connect with clients who are using drugs in or near school grounds to find out why they are participating in this type of behaviour and working with them to get them to dispose of their needles in a safer way," Hyer said. "They also sent me a resource for primary school kids, teaching kids to be aware of syringes and needles and how to stay safe."

Trustees voted to send a letter to the City of Penticton regarding a harm reduction plan, asking how they can work with the city to keep students and staff safe.

KVR Middle School, Queen's Park Elementary School and Penticton Secondary School are where the problem is the worst, due to the school's close proximity to the downtown core.

Despite the school district turning off exterior electricity and keeping wifi only accessible to students and staff, the problem continues.

"We’ve had a little bit of a slowdown, but we are still finding a lot of human feces around so it’s not just needles," Gorcak said. "You don’t want a garbage bag brushing against your leg, because you really don’t know what is in it."

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