HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Hartford community is mourning the loss of a 13-year-old who passed away on Saturday. The teen overdosed on fentanyl, renewing the calls for greater prevention strategies to be put in place.

“There are no words to express my sincere heartache,” Maly Rosado, the president of Hartford’s City Council said. “I feel for the parents, family, and friends of this young man.”

The seventh-grader collapsed while at school at Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford last Thursday.

“To lose a 13-year-old, a seventh-grader, to an overdose of fentanyl is not something that I think many people are prepared for,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said. “Over the last few days, our school system, in particular, has been focused on providing as much support as possible.”

There is now a push to increase access to naloxone, known commonly by the brand name Narcan, which can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. As it stands, Hartford Public Schools are not equipped with this medicine but there is hope that will change. 

“I think anywhere where the city has power to train people and get it there, we should be doing that,” Josh Michtom, a Hartford City Councilmember said.

Bronin told News 8 he is actively having talks with the schools on whether to bring Narcan into the district. He expects to have more details in the days to come.

Hartford City Council members, with the help of their partners, are working to launch a task force to develop a comprehensive education and prevention plan.

“We have to make sure that people are comfortable and competent and feel secure enough to respond because, in situations like this, time is of the essence,” Mark Jenkins, the executive director of the Connecticut Harm Reduction Alliance, said.

It is something other school districts are looking into or have already done, including New Britain. There is Narcan at New Britain High School, but soon it will be available at all schools in the district. 

“I want all of our staff to be able to know how to administer Narcan,” Nancy Sarra, the superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain said. “That it’s not some big, scary thing. It could save a life and anyone can do it.”

A virtual forum closed to the SMSA community was held Monday night where local school and health officials gave updates on the cleaning of facilities and advice on how to talk to students about what happened.

Dr. Melissa Santos of Connecticut Children’s spoke during the forum and said the agency has heard from families reaching out with a variety of questions.

“This has been a really difficult event that has occurred for the school, for the community, and I think people are seeking out resources on how to best manage the next steps for their child,” Santos said.

She encourages parents to start talking to their kids around age 8 or 9 about substance abuse, finding images and teachable moments to describe the topic and the consequences. Then, as they get older, create an environment where kids feel comfortable coming and talking to you.

“I think a lot in these conversations is reassuring kids that you’re looking out for them,” Santos said.

In a letter to families and staff at the school, Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said Sport and Medical Sciences Academy will reopen Wednesday with a two-hour delay. She said the school is completely decontaminated and clean.

News 8 visited the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory where samples are analyzed to get a better idea of that process and how imperative decontamination measures are while dealing with a potent and dangerous substance like fentanyl.

“Now, if it’s a powder, if it’s very able to be aerosolized — that’s very dangerous because like you see dust particles that could be part fentanyl. You don’t want to be breathing this in,” said Dr. Michael Rickenbach, deputy director of the chemical analysis section. “You want to be overly cautious and do your due diligence with respect to cleaning and making sure an area is safe.”

According to Torres-Rodriguez, an additional school safety officer will be on-site and they requested that a Hartford police patrol car be present during arrival and dismissal for the rest of the week. There will be random safety screenings at the school, including bag searches and no-touch wanding.

She said additional district support staff will be on-site, along with therapy dogs to support students throughout the day. Counselors and police will be on hand to ease the community back in. Midterms at the school have been postponed.

Classes were canceled at SMSA Friday and Tuesday while the school was still being decontaminated.

Hartford police say they found 40 bags of fentanyl in multiple rooms, which required massive decontamination efforts. The clean-up crew had to replace air filters and wipe down the walls and floor of the building.

The investigation into what happened in Hartford remains ongoing. Now, officials are focused on what to do to prevent this from happening again.