TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A measure to require at least 20 minutes of daily recess time at elementary schools has sailed through Florida Senate committees and awaits a floor vote, and the process is just beginning in the House.
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said her bill would mandate at least 20 minutes a day, or 100 minutes per week, for children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth-grade classes in all 67 school districts.
"Kids need a little bit of a mental break and a physical break at some point during the day to just go out and be kids," Flores said, adding the recess time would have health and academic benefits for the students.
A companion bill (HB 67), filed by Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, and Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, will be discussed in its first House committee on Tuesday.
A Senate committee amended the bill to allow blending recess with time spent in physical education, not require unstructured play time allocated separately.
St. Johns County School Board member Beverly Slough thinks the amendment is a good compromise.
"I'm all about kids having time and kids being able to decompress and get their wiggles out, as my state rep. would say, but on the flip side, we have to protect our teachers' ability to teach," Slough said.
Some healthcare professionals don't see it that way, believing recess isn't just important for a child's cognitive development, it's also good for their social growth.
Many parents and grandparents like Loretta Texter support making recess mandatory in public schools. She hopes her youngest grandchild will enjoy it soon.
"It's a good place to get the energy out and enjoy themselves," Texter said. "And of course, get the motor developments improved."