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Governor Ducey signs law requiring more recess in schools

Posted at 7:53 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 22:53:45-04

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday signed a proposal that requires schools to give more recess time to young students, a measure that aims to give kids more time for unstructured play.

The measure requires schools to provide an additional recess on top of the lunch period. The proposal passed with wide bipartisan support.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, who sponsored the proposal, said when she presented the bill earlier this year and said more recess breaks are needed to give much-needed rest.

"Little kids can get very stressed, extremely stressed, and they don't know how to explain it, and they don't know how to talk about it," she said.

Arizona Superintendent of Schools Diane Douglas supported the proposal.

"The Superintendent is in favor of the new law because it encourages young children to be active and healthy, as well as provide an outlet for young children to expend excess energy so they can better focus in the classroom," said a statement from public information officer Stefan Swiat.

The new requirements will first apply to kindergarten through third-grade classes. Fourth and fifth grades will be added on in 2019.

Many parents, teachers and health experts spoke up in favor the proposal. They cited the physical and mental benefits of playtime.

The proposal applies to both public and charter schools.

Organizations representing school administrators and school boards opposed the proposal. They aired concerns about the state overstepping local control, including Mark Joraanstad, the executive director of Arizona School Administrators.

"We're disappointed it was passed," he said. "We believe that determination of that issue of school recess should be left to local schools and local school boards, and that's the best place to decide such issues."

He said that many kindergarten, first and second grades classes are already provided with 15-minute recesses. The biggest difference will be for fourth- and fifth-graders, who likely have more structured classroom time.

The Arizona School Boards Association also opposed the proposal, citing concerns with local control. The group said in a statement Thursday that many schools already are in compliance with the law.