Rollout of Fairfax Co. schools telehealth mental health program delayed

Welcome to the School Zone, WTOP’s weekly feature about the latest topics and trends in education across the D.C. region.

Fairfax Co. schools virtual mental health services program delayed 

What it is: As part of its budget process last year, Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia allocated $500,000 for a pilot program aimed at providing telehealth mental health services to students.

In September, Superintendent Michelle Reid said the program would provide counseling sessions with therapists to high school students.

A pilot program was supposed to launch by the beginning of January, but the initiative has still not started.

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What it means: A school system spokeswoman told me the delayed launch is a result of administrative delays in finalizing things with the vendor and that the county hopes to have the program running in the next few months.

The school system has to ensure the vendor is able to comply with its cybersecurity needs and requirements, which has also contributed to the delayed rollout.

Regional snapshot: At the time it was introduced, school board members touted the telehealth mental health initiative as an opportunity for the county to address student mental health and wellness in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Board member Abrar Omeish said last summer that the county’s plans were intended to be similar to the way colleges approach mental health — providing things like digital resources for students to make appointments or have access to round-the-clock support.

By the numbers
Some data that caught my eye this week

Free or reduced-price meals: The number of students in Maryland who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals is significantly higher than in years past. As of fall 2022, there were 110,503 more students eligible than in the fall of 2021. Eligibility increased from 323,000 students to 433,000.

What Scott’s Reading

  • Prince William County schools project $1.6 billion budget, 5% employee raises [InsideNova]
  • Second instance of ‘hateful graffiti’ discovered at Montgomery County high school [WTOP]
  • Howard University landmark getting $50 million makeover [WTOP]
  • Black history class revised by College Board amid criticism [WTOP]
  • Former Va. principal unaware that 6-year-old had gun, attorney says [Washington Post]
  • State math error means FCPS will get less funding than expected [FFX Now]

Field Trip
Here’s a fun thought ahead of the weekend.

Brunch and basketball: Brunch at Nina May is on tap, and hopefully, Miami’s men’s basketball team can pull off an upset on the road at Clemson.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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