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MCPS High School Wellness Spaces Expansion On Track For Late Fall

As Montgomery County Public Schools focuses on trying to better meet the mental health needs of students, a push to bring wellness spaces to all of its high schools is nearing completion. here the end of the summer holidays.

At a school board meeting last week, members approved contracts with the company that will carry out the project, which county leaders say is imperative to ensure students have the support they need. mental well-being they need to focus on learning.

The contract was awarded to Keller Brothers, Inc., a Mt. Airy-based contractor, for approximately $6.8 million.

Wellness spaces will be set up in 19 secondary schools, according to school board documents. Staffed by staff from the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, they will offer mental health care, such as individual counseling, family and group counseling, and crisis intervention. Students can use the spaces for other wellness activities like meditation and breathing exercises, as needed, school officials said.

The five schools that already have wellness centers also offer some health care services, including vaccinations, vision and hearing assessments, preventive care, and sports physical exams. New locations should not yet have these services, according to Dira Treadvance, head of children, youth and families for the Department of Health and Human Services. The long-term goal is to add these services, she said.

In April, the County Council passed special appropriations to the MCPS budget, totaling $8 million, to fund the creation of spaces at each high school. They will be located in existing spaces – such as empty classrooms – or in movable classrooms outside the building.

At a school board meeting last week, MCPS Director of Facilities Management Seth Adams said each space will be operational from the first day of school, though some finishing touches may need to be made while throughout the fall.

“It is going to involve working 24 hours a day, Saturday and Sunday, to do this. … It will probably come down to the last day of summer vacation before schools open,” Adams said.

Treadvance said each new space may not be fully staffed with a licensed therapist when the school begins, but each will have services. This could include an art therapist, music therapist, yoga or other therapeutic support “until we can get the licensed clinician who can do more formal medical treatment,” Treadvance said.

The high schools that already have wellness centers are:

• Northwood High School
• Gaithersburg High School
• Watkins Mill Secondary School
• Wheaton High School
• Seneca Valley High School

A sixth wellness center was already under construction at John F. Kennedy High School.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at [email protected]