Bill Aims to Guarantee 45 Minutes of Recess Time To Students
The Washington Legislature is considering a bill requiring elementary schools to give students 45 minutes of recess each day. According to the bill’s supporters, recess could help combat the mental health and academic issues caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Currently, recess times vary in Washington and can be taken away as punishment.
Researchers have proven that physical and social activity lowers stress hormones, makes kids less restless, and allows them to focus in the classroom. More recess time would help kids get their recommended hour of physical activity. Supporters say this would help low- income kids who are more likely not to have access to a backyard or nearby park after school.
One study in Texas found that kids who had 45 minutes of recess had significantly less cortisol hormone levels, which is for stress, than kids who had 30 minutes of recess. Debbie Rhea, a professor of kinesiology at Texas Christian University, said it would be ideal for kids to get four 15-minute recesses every day at school.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent has expanded this recommendation to students who are in middle and high school as well.
Twenty states have already passed laws concerning recess time or physical activity in schools.
A bill like this died in committee last year but did not have opposition. Some did ask how schools would fit extra recess time into scheduling and how it would change teacher contracts.
Since the 1970s, childhood obesity has tripled, and the average kid sits for 8.5 hours a day. Studies have shown that twenty minutes of recess daily and 150 minutes of physical education class can affect a child’s weight.
Recess time was cut back and in some districts, eliminated in favor of more classroom time. The average weekly recess time has gone down by sixty minutes since 2001.
Only nine states require schools to offer recess.