Over-the-counter medications: What YOU need to know when you bring them to school.

Adi Collins

   According to Delta schools policy, marajuana is as bad at over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, TUMs and vitamins. Are students aware of the district policy?    The Delta School District  policy handbook on drugs and alcohol states: “For purposes of this policy, controlled substances include but are not limited to narcotic drugs, hallucinogenic or mind-altering drugs or substances, amphetamines, barbiturates, stimulants, depressants, marijuana, anabolic steroids, any other controlled substances as defined in law, or any prescription or nonprescription drug, medication, vitamin or other chemical substances not taken in accordance with the Board’s policy and regulations on administering medications to student or the Board’s policy on administration of medical marijuana to qualified students.”   Specifically, the section stating “…or any prescription or nonprescription drug, medication, vitamin…” This section is interesting in the fact that Delta High School’s student handbook does not contain that information.   The DHS Handbook instead says: “The Board of Education sets as a high priority an attempt to provide a drug-free school environment.  Possession or use, distribution, procurement, or being under the influence of intoxicants, including alcohol, narcotic drugs, any controlled substance, including hallucinogenic or mind altering drugs, amphetamines, barbiturates, stimulants, depressants, or marijuana are grounds for suspension or expulsion from school in accordance with school district policy JICH-R.”   Why are the policies different? In an interview with Emily Brown, DHS school nurse, she said that students are allowed to have Tylenol and TUMS, but not in their lockers and they have to have a doctor’s order and it must be held in the nurse’s office.   Are DHS students aware of this policy since it’s not in the student handbook? Less than half of DHS students have a doctor’s order for an over-the-counter medication.   Brown also said they put a restriction on all medications, this includes Tylenol, TUMS, even vitamins, and “other chemical substances not taken in accordance with the Board’s policy and regulations.”    But why put a restriction on all medications? Why are gummy vitamins labeled as “dangerous” like Tylenol? The answer: “The difficulty to pick and choose,” said Brown. It’s understandable knowing that all accidents caused by medication without a doctor’s order go under the district RN’s license.    Rachel Slogar, Delta County’s School District Registered Nurse, has been working as the District RN for three years now. In her three years, she has never had her license revoked or had an incident such as an overdose involving over-the-counter medication.    One over-the-counter medication not allowed on school grounds without a doctor’s order is TUMS. TUMS, simple over-the-counter antacids, can be quite dangerous if taken too much.    According to Slogar “TUMS is a form of calcium carbonate and is unlikely to cause an overdose. However, taking too many TUMS can lead to high calcium levels which can cause side effects like heart arrhythmias (which can be fatal), kidney damage, and kidney stones.”   As Slogar said, taking too many can be dangerous. But we have to think, those who carry TUMS use them for a purpose: heartburn, congestion, acid reflux, and other discomforts. Not to mention the policy is for the High School’s handbook, and most of the students are nearly adults, or at a minimum, smart enough to know not to pop them like candy.    As far as punishment, the student handbook states: “are grounds for suspension or expulsion from school in accordance with school district policy JICH-R. ” Is the Handbook saying having two TUM tablets in a student’s locker is a suspendable offense? It says nothing about over-the-counter medications, so should a student really be in trouble for having some Tylenol in their locker? On the issue of the District’s policy, Slogar said: “As a nurse, it is imperative that I know what my “patients” (students) are taking.  Over the counter medications aren’t always safe. They have adverse reactions, side effects, and food and medication interactions.  If a student is taking medication, and I am not aware, and they experience an adverse event, it is much harder for me to determine the root cause and provide appropriate intervention and support.”    Is a change is needed in the school’s handbook in conjunction with the district policy? Should DHS students be punished for having TUMs in their lockers until the student handbook states so?