On Wednesday, Educational Service District (ESD) 112 announced the launch of a new therapeutic learning program in Clark and Cowlitz counties. The new program, Spero, will support middle- and high school-aged youth struggling with mental health issues.

With centers in Vancouver and Longview, Spero uses a combination of academic and mental health support to provide a safe, small and therapeutic educational setting for young people experiencing anxiety disorders, depressive disorders or other mental health challenges.

“Navigating the traditional public school setting can be extremely difficult for students with social-emotional or mental health issues, and all too often they end up avoiding school altogether,” Spero Director Sara Hatch said in a news release. “Our program allows these students to comfortably return to a group learning environment, receive personalized support from our team of care providers, and work toward an eventual return to their school of origin.”

According to the release, students in Spero are qualified for and served through an individualized education program (IEP) and recommended for placement by their school districts IEP team. To protect the health and safety of those in the program from COVID-19, Spero has a staggered schedule with small group in-person learning. Additionally, participants remain together in specific classroom cohorts with appropriate PPE and physical distancing.

Students and families interested in Spero enrollment should contact their school district’s IEP team. To learn more, visit the Spero website, esd112.org/spero.

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