This year, the district is implementing a screening program in grades 7 and 9 related to the use of alcohol, marijuana and other substances in accordance with a bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in March of 2016 which outlines the requirements for public schools in the Commonwealth to engage in substance use prevention and education. The legislation can be found at https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2016/Chapter52 (see Sections 15, 63, 64, 66).
The Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) screening process will be incorporated into our annual state mandated screening program. This year, we will screen all students in grades 7 and 9 during the month of October. Student screening sessions will be brief (approximately 5 minutes) and all confidential screenings will be conducted at school by our trained staff in private one-on-one sessions. We will utilize the CRAFFT II screening tool, which is the Department of Public Health recommended substance use screening tool for adolescents in Massachusetts
Students who report that they are not using substances will have their healthy choices reinforced by the screener. The screener will provide brief feedback to any student who reports using substances or who is at risk for future substance use. If needed, the screener will refer students to our counseling staff for further evaluation.
This program focuses on harm prevention and does not generate disciplinary action. The overall goal of the screening is to let the students know that trained staff are available to reinforce healthy decisions and to assist them in obtaining support if needed for substance use related problems. Results of the screening will not be included in your child's school record, nor will results be shared with parents/guardians or staff other than the SBIRT Team unless the student is deemed a danger to him/herself or others.
As with any school screening, you have the right to opt your child out of this screening. Please complete and sign the attached information and return the opt out request to your school nurse either in person or via mail if you wish to exclude your child from this screening,
One way to prevent youth substance use is to talk with your child about your family's values and expectations regarding substance use. Research shows that parental influence is one of the top reasons young people decide not to drink. We believe that together, school staff and parents CAN make a difference for the youth in Lowell.