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IPHI and Montgomery County Public Schools Release COVID-19 Wellness Needs Assessment

The Report Offers Recommendations to Support Local School Wellness Councils in An Ever-Changing Environment

The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI) and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) are excited to announce the Supporting the Sustainability of Local School Wellness Council: COVID-19 Wellness Needs Assessment results. The report was developed in collaboration with Community Science, the project team’s evaluator.

Since 2016, IPHI has partnered with MCPS health to build the capacity of Local School Wellness Councils (LSWC) to reduce childhood obesity and improve student wellness. These local wellness councils have guided schools to identify their wellness needs and develop goals to enhance student health and well-being.

Due to COVID-19, project partners developed a survey to assess how active schools have been engaged in health and wellness efforts this past school year and to gather information on how to best meet schools’ health and wellness needs. This report summarizes the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from efforts to support LSWC’s and offers recommendations to sustain the future work of the LSWCs.

During this past school year, LSWC’s provided critical support to students and teachers around wellness. Schools offered fitness challenges and mindfulness sessions to support students emotional well-being. Schools hosted both virtual and outdoor opportunities and maintained connections with their students and families through home visits or a “walk-by” and virtual chat-and-chew sessions. In addition, schools were able to provide families with fresh produce and food assistance resources due to the significant economic impact COVID-19 had on family’s ability to access healthy foods.

Throughout the past four years, the project team has successfully implemented local school wellness councils in 110 schools, reaching 81,016 students, and developed the first School Wellness Toolkit in the state of Maryland that guides schools in how to create a local school wellness council.

To learn about their accomplishments, click here.  Funding for the assessment and report was made possible by the support of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation.