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Eustace Bill to Require Public Schools Provide Recess Time for Elementary School Students Approved by Assembly Panel

Some school districts are cutting recess in favor of more classroom time, despite expert opinion that recess time provides cognitive, social, emotional & physical benefits

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen) to make recess a requirement for elementary public school students, as some districts are taking kids out the playground in favor of more time in the classroom.

“Some school districts are getting rid of recess to maximize instruction time, or withhold it as a form of punishment for misbehavior. But according to experts, denying a kid recess does more harm than good,” said Eustace. “Recess time provides cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits. What’s the point of having more time for instruction, if the child is going to be too restless to focus?

The bill (A-3935) requires that, beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, a public school district must provide a daily recess period of at least 20 minutes for students in grades kindergarten through 5. The bill provides that the recess period may not be scheduled immediately before or after the student’s physical education class and that no student can be denied recess for any reason. The bill also provides that recess will not be permitted to be used to meet the current statutory requirements regarding the provision of health, safety, and physical education courses in public schools.

“Recess for a child is the equivalent of a walk for an adult who needs a quick mental break from work,” said Eustace. “These children spend most of their time in school learning new subject matter. Surely they deserve at least 20 minutes to de-stress, release some energy and refocus.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee.