HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Sunday its first fentanyl overdose of the year, with a Hays Consolidated Independent School District student dying from fentanyl poisoning Jan. 2.

“To start the new year, we’ve already — we have a student from Hays CISD who unfortunately did succumb to a fentanyl-related poisoning,” Anthony Hipolito, a Hays County Sheriff’s Office deputy, said.

A Hays CISD spokesperson told KXAN Sunday the district is offering counseling services following the student’s death. On Monday, a letter from Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said law enforcement is investigating it as a possible accidental fentanyl overdose.

“I am afraid I don’t have good news to share about our ongoing fight against fentanyl. During the break, we had three cases of suspected accidental fentanyl poisonings involving students as young as 7th grade. Additionally, we had another student who passed away during the break. Though no autopsy results are back yet, law enforcement investigators are now considering the possibility that an accidental fentanyl poisoning may be to blame. If so, that would be the fourth fentanyl poisoning during our Christmas break, and the fifth student our district has lost to fentanyl this school year.”

Dr. Eric Wright, Hays CISD superintendent

Wright said the district is continue to expand its Fighting Fentanyl campaign, with resources available online.

“My heart breaks for our families affected by this horrible crisis. There are simply no words that can ease their pain,” Wright concluded in his statement. “I do hope that by respecting the seriousness of the fentanyl epidemic and by continuing the conversation, we can save lives right here at home, in our very own school district.”

HCSO and Hays CISD officials said fentanyl overdoses have been an ongoing crisis within the district after four students died from fentanyl poisoning in 2022. The news came as parents raised money to install a fentanyl awareness billboard along I-35 in Kyle, featuring photos of three students who died from fentanyl.

HCSO reported 37 fentanyl overdoses in 2022, with 14 of those involving minors between the ages of 13 and 17.