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Pushing for more recess time

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's a proposal that could have a major impact on what's required of Florida's elementary students.
A bill from a state senator in Miami suggests a requirement of 100 minutes of uninterrupted recess each week.

Some parents say this would be great for kids. Not only would it allow the younger ones to have time to get outside during school, but they say it would also likely end up helping inside the classroom as well.

"You'll never know until you try," said Donna Dale.

Under the proposal, the recess time would have to be unstructured play time for the students at younger levels.
The bill would require each school district to provide "at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess" each week or 20 consecutive minutes per day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The free-play recess would be in addition to the requirement that school districts provide 150 minutes of "physical education" each week for students in K-5 and sixth-grade students who are in schools that contain one or more elementary classes.

“It's a great idea. Kids need that, they need the downtime and playtime. Too many tests,” said Dale, a local parent.

“When they get their physical activity, then they come back into the classroom and they perform better in the classroom,” said Melissa Sweet.

Sweet is a parent, but was also a teacher in Australia. She tells me their requirement was to have between 15 and 30 minutes of recess time each day. As a parent, she loved it for the children, but as a teacher, she tells me that time did complicate things.

“When you're trying to fit that in and the curriculum, and everything else that is required of a teacher, there's not enough time in the day,” said Sweet.

In October, the Duval County school board passed a resolution encouraging teachers to allow 20 minutes of recess time, especially on days when students aren’t scheduled for physical education with the P.E. teacher, allowing teachers to use their discretion in the scheduling process.

A similar bill failed in the state legislature in 2016. If this one passes, it would be put into place starting with the 2017 school year.