Lagana Bill to Require School Recess Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation Would Require Daily Recess Period in Grades K-5

Legislation Assemblyman Joe Lagana sponsored to require daily recess periods for grade school students was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.

“In addition to giving children time to recharge during the school day, recess allows students to develop their social skills and get some physical activity,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “With more and more young people at risk for illnesses due to inactivity, it’s critical for recess to be a part of their routine starting at an early age.”

The bill (A-4044) would require public school districts to provide a daily recess period of at least 20 minutes for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The recess period shall be held outdoors, if feasible.

In calling for the legislation, Lagana cited data showing that one in six children in the United States is overweight and more children are developing cardiovascular risk factors and Type 2 diabetes. He also noted the well-documented impact of recess on cognition in children.

“Participation in a regularly-scheduled, unstructured recess period should be part of any comprehensive educational experience for elementary school students,” said Lagana. “Studies show that giving students the break between cognitive tasks that recess allows enables them to return to the classroom better prepared to learn.”

School-aged children should participate in a minimum of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Education Committee.