Students to Get More Recess Time this School Year

Elementary students will get more recess time this school year thanks to student wellness policy changes approved by the School Board last June.

In addition, the policy now also includes weather-related guidelines for when to hold recess and other student activities outdoors. All students from pre-K through fifth grade will now get at least 30 minutes of recess per day, an increase of 10 minutes per day from last year. This extra recess time is in addition to 60 to 90 minutes of physical education instruction per week, and 15 minutes per day of “active learning” time, when movement is incorporated with academic learning in the classroom.

Education experts recognize that students learn better and retain information more effectively if they move frequently. To address this, some ACPS classrooms already include seats that bounce or roll. Under the revised policy and regulation, videos shown during indoor recess should actively engage students in physical activity, balance or other forms of movement. In addition, any use of video during the school day should be related to instructional objectives.

Some changes to the student wellness policy result from state legislation that became effective July 1, 2018. The state now allows school divisions to count “unstructured recreational time” (recess) for up to 15 percent of the total required instructional time. The new changes align with the health and wellness goal of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan.

ACPS was the first school division in Virginia to adopt a health and wellness goal in its strategic planning to ensure that all ACPS students are mentally, emotionally and physically ready to learn. The student wellness policy was also revised to provide guidelines for holding recess and outdoor activities during inclement weather, excessive heat or wind-chill, and during air quality advisories.