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YREKA, Calif. — A Siskiyou County mother says that her 5-year-old daughter was hospitalized last week after somehow coming into contact with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl while at school.
Danyel Eldridge-Mott told NewsWatch 12 that her daughter, Addison, was attending an after-school program at Grenada Elementary on Thursday, October 21, when she suddenly became extremely ill and was taken to the hospital. It wasn't until about 24 hours later that Mott was told her daughter had tested positive for fentanyl while at a hospital in Davis, California.
It's still not entirely clear how much fentanyl Addison came into contact with. It's also unknown where or how she was exposed to the opioid.
The Siskiyou Opioid Safety Coalition reports that, although many rates are showing drastic declines, the overall death rate nationwide from opioid overdose continues to rise due to the increases in use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which is 80-100 times stronger than morphine.
In an October 24 letter to families obtained by NewsWatch 12, Grenada Elementary superintendent and principal GingerLee Charles said that the school would be closed until further notice "due to confidential and unforeseen circumstances," lasting at least through Wednesday.
"This closure is due to an incident that involved one of our students being hospitalized after exhibiting symptoms at school," Charles wrote. "Thankfully, the student is recovering and our concerned thoughts and prayers are with the family."
Charles indicated that school officials were working with Siskiyou County Public Health, county education administrators, and law enforcement in an ongoing investigation.
"We understand this is an extremely serious and difficult situation and will share more information as we are able. Your patience is appreciated and updates will be provided daily," Charles concluded.
In an interview with Newswatch 12, Mott said, "I have a firm feeling that this is something that came from a staff member, unfortunately, that is employed at the school. So, that brings me to my concern for our schools and our children."
"Due to everything that's been going on, I haven't been able to look into drug screening policies for our schools, but it's something I'm really interested in."
When Mott found her daughter in the unusual and scary state, she was at the after school program called SAFE, Siskiyou After School for Everyone, which she says is state funded.
Mott said, "We need a program that is 100% transparent and that we can trust."
Mott says her family developed the hashtag #addistrong on Facebook to spread awareness of Addison's story and to "make a change in our school systems so our children are protected and so this doesn't happen to anyone else child."
Child Protective Services and Deputy Nowdesha with the Siskyou County Sheriff's Office are involved in the investigation.
NewsWatch 12 has reached out to the principal/superintendent at Grenada Elementary, as well as the Siskiyou County Sheriff to get more details on the situation.
Mott tells NewsWatch 12 she has not taken any steps toward legal action at this time as her family is still recovering from the horror of the situation.