Settles Bridge Elementary in Suwanee held a ribbon cutting ceremony for new playground equipment at the school.

Georgia Legislature: Should school recess be mandatory or optional?

Proposed school recess mandate could become a recommendation instead

Legislation that mandates recess in Georgia elementary schools could instead become just a recommendation. 

When House Bill 273 passed the House of Representatives 147-17 on March 3, it required an average of 30 minutes per day of recess in kindergarten through fifth grade, except on days with physical education or other “structured activity.”

The sponsor of the mandatory recess bill says the number of kids with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes is way too high in Georgia.

At a hearing in the Senate Education and Youth Committee on Monday, though, Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, the committee chairman, asked that the mandate be replaced with a recommendation: instead of saying schools “shall” give recess, he asked that the bill say schools should “strive” to do it.

Tippins said most schools already provide recess, but one mother and former teacher who testified said she preferred a mandate.

The bill that would require school districts to allow those children recess time

Lisa Coronado, a former high school math teacher in DeKalb County, recalled how five years ago her students told her that as elementary school students they didn’t get much recess.

Deleting the word “shall,” she said, “takes all the teeth out of it.”

The bill was held for amendments and another hearing. Author Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D-Stockbridge, seemed amenable to the change, saying Tippins’ request was “fair.”

Children and one expert lobbied lawmakers last month to approve the bill, saying it is counterproductive to focus on academics all day without a break to play. Critics of the measure say schools are already squeezed for time to meet existing mandates to reach milestones on schedule for learning reading, writing and math.

Bill Introduced To Make Recess Mandatory For Schools

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