As concerned parents, employees, and community members of Centennial Elementary School, we petition Centennial Elementary School and Alpine School District to add a morning recess, in addition to the current lunch and afternoon recesses, to all 1st-6th grade class schedules at Centennial Elementary School. We request this change to be implemented with the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
On January 8, 2020, the Utah State Board of Education unanimously voted to include recess as part of the required 990 hours of instructional time per school year. In response to the state’s change, on February 11, 2020, Alpine School District Board members updated Alpine School District Policy 6340-1.2 to "include recess periods in the instructional time calculation." With these policy changes, Centennial Elementary School administrators are now free to decide, without any outside restrictions, how much time our students are able to spend at recess each day.
While we appreciate that Centennial’s teachers are able to give class “brain breaks” as they deem necessary, we do not believe these unscheduled breaks are an adequate replacement for the petitioned morning recess. We agree with The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention's definition of recess as “regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play.” Under that definition, time spent in unscheduled and structured breaks, do not count towards recess minutes in a school day.
Using the CDC’s definition, Centennial’s students only receive 35 mins of recess a day. With over half of the students’ wakeful day being spent at school, we feel the current amount of time spent at recess is insufficient to meet our students’ emotional and physical needs.
Our students deserve the best education possible and study after study has shown that time spent at recess positively impacts the educational experience both cognitively and socially. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, recess "affords a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move, and socialize. After recess…students are more attentive and better able to perform cognitively.” Recess also "helps young children to develop social skills that are otherwise not acquired in the structured classroom environment.”
We understand a lot of hard work went into creating our current schedule by Centennial’s school administrators and thank them for those efforts. We look forward to working with Centennial Elementary School administrators and Alpine School District in the revision of the school’s future schedule to improve the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences of our students by including an additional morning recess for all 1st-6th grade students.