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More Recess!

SB1083We have a bill pending to require at least 2 recesses per day in Arizona public schools for full-day-K through grade 5.  Schools with only 1 recess should know that many Arizona schools already have a 2nd recess—and they are thriving.  Below are listed some of the hundreds of elementary schools with at least 2 recesses: district & charter schools, large & small, lower & higher income, urban & suburban & rural.  

In early 2018 we will post sample bell-schedules for a wide range of elementary schools with 2-3 daily recesses, in order to help make implementing a 2nd recess as easy as possible.  And we will provide other free support and assistance, too, from master PE teachers and other experts, who have the skills and experience to assist you with increasing recess and physical activity at your school, while improving student achievement: 

–      3 daily recesses:  Mountain View Prep (IB), Cottonwood;  4 Franklin Traditional Schools, Mesa; 

–      2 daily recesses:  Knoles & Sechrist Elementary, Flagstaff USD;  Horizon Community Learning Center, Phoenix (charter; 2 recesses + PE daily);  Mesa Public Schools (vast majority of MPS elementary schools);  Waggoner Elementary, Kyrene;  Madison ESD schools (K-2), Phoenix;  Metcalf/Morenci;  Otondo/Yuma;  Meyer/Tombstone;  Kayenta Elem.;  General Myer/Fort Huachuca;  Stanfield Elem., Maricopa.  

For the latest on recess in AZ including SB1083, please go to the Arizonans for Recess Facebook page.  For the current legislative status of SB1083, please go to

 Here are some key points from the school recess bill issues statement:

It is absurd, yet a sad fact, that most elementary and middle schools students have only one brief recess in a 6-7 hour school day.  And many of those same students only have PE for 30-45 minutes each week…if that

There is a multidisciplinary consensus, grounded in research evidence, that regular recess breaks optimize cognitive, physical, social, and emotional child development; enhance attention, memory, and classroom behavior; and improve student attendance and achievement.

Healthy Future Arizona - More Recess

Requiring daily recess periods ensures child access to school-day play breaks, which are proven to foster communication, cooperation, creativity, and problem-solving.  These key life skills are not only foundations for healthy child development, but more predictive of future success than any other measures.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC call recess a critical part of the school day.

Recess is often withheld to punish classroom behavior or for academic work, despite the SHAPE America and Arizona Department of Education’s professional standard against withholding recess, and concurring Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) model policy.  Instead of increasing classroom discipline, these counterproductive practices make students antsier and less focused—and even more likely to become defined as “bad kids”—even though all that many of them need is more frequent exercise!

In 2010, the Arizona Legislature required districts to review and vote on recess policy that year.  A.R.S. 15-108 even recommended that elementary schools provide at least 30 minutes of recess—in addition to recess at lunch (“lunch recess”).  Instead, schools continued cutting recess—against evidence and without stakeholder consent.  Recess cuts have not resulted in academic gains.  The last seven years prove local control on recess has instead ended in local neglect.

If enacted in 2018, the proposed school recess bill would require, beginning with the 2018-19 school year:

– At least two daily recesses for K-5 students during the school day.

– Half day Kinder and middle schools are exempt.

– Minimum one recess on PE days.

– Lunch recess may be counted as one recess.

Research shows that state recess laws improve child access to recess, whereas school policies alone are not significantly effective. Additionally, lower-income Latino, African-American and Native-American students have often ended up with the least recess and the highest rates of obesity. Per the CDC, obesity has tripled among youth 6-19 during the last 30 years, contributing to 40% of adults being obese nationwide.  Even worse:

1 in 3 students will have diabetes as adults, largely due to lifelong inactivity.

Recess, PE and physical activity cuts are helping increase Arizona’s future state/AHCCCS and private health care costs to unsustainable levels

And they are even impacting our national defense—as over one-third of applicants wishing to join the armed forces are rejected due to obesity and unfitness.

Accelerating Progress in Obesity PreventionIncreasing school recess is key to having enough time for physical activity

In a definitive 462-page report published in 2012, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that children generally need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily to be healthy.  Yet schools are often providing only 15-20 minutes per day—followed by hours of “screen-time” sitting at home

Here is a proven example of how we CAN get to 60 minutes at school:

Healthy Future Arizona - Physical Activity

Arizona requires 712 annual instructional hours for grades 1-3 (about 4 hours daily) and 890 annual instructional hours for grades 4-5 (about 5 hours daily).  The school day is typically 6-7 hours long.  Arizona schools still offering 2-3 daily recesses prove there is time in the existing school day for more than just lunch recess, so that children are able to recharge between lessons and approach the needed 60 daily minutes of physical activity.  Per the Arizona Department of Education, “schools are the only setting where all students can engage in physical activity during the day, making them a critical environment for providing and promoting physical activity.”

We have already identified over a dozen elementary schools with 2 or more daily recesses.   Many are Title 1 schools—yet they also have good academic achievement.  In early 2018 we will post these real-life examples of bell-schedules, so that schools with only 1 recess can choose from a range of options, as they add another recess.

Six states (CT, FL, IN, MO, RI, VA) now require recess for elementary school children. Most recently, Florida and Rhode Island mandated recess.  No additional funding or extended school day were required.

(Please see our latest slide deck for more details, as well as this list of research evidence references.)

Seas Graphic

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