Triangle psychologist offers advice on best ways for students to spend wellness days

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Johnston County Public Schools on Wednesday became the latest district to add wellness days to their calendar. That means no class for students and staff, giving them the time to focus on their mental health.

St. Augustine’s University had a wellness day Wednesday. So, what’s the best way to take advantage of these days?

While it may sound obvious, Dr. Barbara Lowe, a psychologist, advises people of all ages to focus on having fun, spending time with family and friends, and getting some rest.

St. Augustine’s campus was empty Wednesday evening. So, how did students spend the day?

“Trying to get some errands done right now, so I really don’t have time to be doing that cause of class,” junior Shadaisa Staton said.

“I got up to go get tested for COVID, I went to lunch, and I went to get a Halloween costume, and now I’m about to help one of my supervisors with some work,” sophomore Ariana White said.

CBS 17 went to Lowe for insight.

“This time period of going through COVID, and we’re still in, has made us very aware of our own mental health needs,” she said.

Lowe works with a lot of children and teens. She said more parents have been reaching out. For younger children, she offered a recommendation:

“If we do things like we read stories to our kids that teach coping skills, which there are a lot of stories out there, you can go to your local library,” Lowe said.

For teens and college students, she had this advice:

“Really, making a list of pleasurable activities or fun activities, and you can get some ideas from Pinterest, like a bucket list for my wellness days,” Lowe said.

The Johnston County School Board voted on adding wellness days in a special meeting Wednesday. One of them will be Friday, Nov. 12. They also made Monday, Nov. 22 a student holiday. Nov. 23 will also be a wellness day.

CBS 17 spoke with School Board Chair Todd Sutton about the decision and what his message is for frustrated parents who are concerned their kids are already behind.

“My wife is a teacher and I know a lot of teachers in the communities. They’ve worked extra hard to catch the students up,” Sutton said.

Sutton said he’s hoping students and teachers will get a chance to regroup and recharge, then finish the semester strong.

Two optional teacher workdays will be added to the end of the school year to make up for it. He said the decision wouldn’t impact staff pay.

The following central North Carolina school systems adopted wellness days recently:

  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (days during Thanksgiving week)
  • Johnston County Public Schools (days during Thanksgiving week)
  • St. Aug’s (Oct. 27)
  • UNC-Chapel Hill (Oct. 12)
  • Wake County Public Schools (Nov. 12)
  • Cumberland County Schools (Nov. 12)
  • Durham Public Schools (Nov. 12)
  • Hoke County Schools (Nov. 12)

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