Credit: File image

Walter Johnson High School’s artificial turf field will be replaced at the conclusion of the fall sports season.

Replacement of the 10-year-old field will begin in November and be completed prior to winter break, according to Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Derek Turner.

The fields are generally expected to be replaced approximately every 10 years, he said. The Walter Johnson project is expected to cost about $700,000.

The most recent inspection report available on the MCPS website shows the Walter Johnson field received minor maintenance repairs in June. Four bags of debris were collected and removed, which is considered a normal amount, according to the report.

Eleven MCPS schools have artificial turf fields, according to the school system website, with a 12th currently being installed at Julius West Middle School in Rockville.

Critics harbor doubts about the safety of the artificial fields and have raised concerns about the mineral substance used to fill the spaces between synthetic fibers.


Additionally, some student-athletes have said the artificial turf field materials at some schools have caused a rise in sports injuries including “turf burn” and recurring lacerations.

MCPS has argued that the infill substance, called clinoptilolite zeolite, meets safety standards and has metal levels below the European standard for children’s toys. Three new fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown use the same type of infill, the school system has reported.

Artificial turf fields are intended to provide equity in playing fields among schools, allow “safe, year-round use under most weather conditions,” require less maintenance and rescheduling disruptions, the school district says on its website.


Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at