FEBRUARY 24, 2017 ATLANTA Students in Lisa Cunnigham’s second grade class play during a recess at the Burgess-Peterson Academy Friday, February 24, 2017. A bill introduced in the Georgia House would require at least a half-hour of recess for all Georgia students in kindergarten through fifth grade. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” and school recess are inalienable rights. That was essentially the message Lilly Nordby Wills brought to Georgia lawmakers Tuesday, hoping to right what she sees as a grave injustice at her Paulding County school. “We get 15 minutes of recess, sometimes not even that, ” the fourth-grader told a room full of state representatives. Her teacher gives students extra work, and if they don’t complete it fast enough they lose even those meager moments of carefree time. She had to forfeit some of her recess last month, scribbling her work while the other kids played. “That made me sad, ” she said. Kent D. Johnson/AJC

Georgia House votes to require recess

State Rep. Demetrius Douglas made no attempt to hide around his bill, seeking bipartisan approval.

“Thirty minutes of recess and can’t be taken away because the kid is acting bad. That’s it,” said the Stockbridge Democrat.

The Georgia House voted 147-17 on House Bill 273, which requires schools in Georgia to provide at least 30 minutes of unstructured, preferably outdoor, break time for students in kindergarten and first through fifth grade.

The length, frequency, timing and location of the recess time is left to the discretion of local school boards.

The bill also provides recess as a right that cannot be taken away even from students who receive disciplinary action.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will again have Georgia’s largest team covering the Legislature. Get complete daily coverage during the legislative session at myAJC.com/georgialegislature.

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