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New GA law makes recess mandatory for K-5 students

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Only a handful of states mandate recess time for elementary school students: Georgia is now one of them. Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law to making it mandatory for elementary students to stay active during school hours.

“Because the academic pressures have increased, our students need an outlet,” Reese Road Leadership Academy teacher Caprisha Battle said. “They need a break.”

A bill that would make recess mandatory for elementary schools all across Georgia signed into law this week by Governor Brian Kemp. The law requires school districts to have recess for students from kindergarten to fifth grade daily for 30 minutes.

Battle explained important skills are learned through unstructured activity time.

“They’re learning how to talk to each other, play those games, express when they are angry or upset, express when they’re happy.

Under the new law, schools will not be able to withhold recess from students for disciplinary or academic reasons. The length, timing and location of those breaks are up to local school boards to determine. The law does allow for exceptions when field trips, school assemblies or inclement weather conflict with recess.

Muscogee County School Board Chair, Patricia Hugley-Greene said the school board has always tried to make unstructured learning a priority: “The state has traditionally placed such an emphasis on closing that achievement gap through instructional time so that we don’t waste a single minute of instructional time. Teachers have had to make it a priority to fit in the recess to provide that balance.”

...but now that it is a law, restructuring classroom time is crucial.

“Speaking as a teacher first, I think we will all be liberated because we’ve always been the voice of our students. They want to play,” Battle said. “They want to go outside.”

The law goes into effect this upcoming school year.

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