SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – School can be hard. With tests, social interactions, new challenges, and the usual growing pains students face, it’s no wonder some students can become seriously stressed. Now, legislators are looking at one simple way to help.
Wednesday, legislators in the House Education Committee discussed House Bill 112. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pamelya Herndon (D-Abq.), aims to provide $5 million to build “wellness rooms” in public schools.
The point is to give students a space where they can rest, relax, and release stress. The idea is relatively straightforward, but legislators questioned how the rooms would work.
Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell (R-Roswell) said that given how the bill is written, the space “could possibly be a closet,” which wouldn’t actually be helpful. In response, Gregory Frostad, the director of policy at the Public Education Department, said the language of the bill is relatively vague so that each school can do what works for them.
But, the bill supporters clarified, the spaces wouldn’t be closets. And it would include adult supervision, although not necessarily a counselor, they say.
Rep. Ezzell also expressed concern that the bill might be discriminatory because it would preferentially create the wellness rooms in schools with a high percentage of students at risk of failure, as outlined in the bill. Frostad defended the idea of prioritizing the students with the highest need.
Despite Ezzell’s concerns, the committee voted in favor of the bill. If the idea keeps progressing through the legislature and ends up being approved, it’s not clear exactly what students can expect from “wellness rooms.” But similar rooms in schools across the U.S. often contain plush seating, soft lighting, and other amenities that help them feel at home, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee.