Mandatory Recess Law for NJ

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NJ students in Kindergarten through 8th grade are not being provided appropriate recess. We would like to see more outdoor recess, and on days when it is not feasible to go outside, we would like accommodations for indoor recess instead of just watching a movie. If a school can provide for the mandatory physical education classes, then it can certainly provide for a 20 minute recess, even when indoors.

As it stands now, our children are being forced to sit on a gym floor, in a cafeteria, in classrooms, etc., on days when it is not feasible to go outside for recess, and watch movies or be quiet. They are not allowed to socialize with their peers or move around. By the end of the day, these same students are wound-up, found to be "disruptive", and acting out. We are told by the CDC and AAP that we should be limiting screen time for our children, yet they are being forced to watch non-educational movies instead of being allowed to play. The CDC and AAP also say that recess should be used to complement physical education, that physical education classes should not replace recess and that children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Children are losing the ability to socialize and make friends, and yet we are shocked that bullying and isolation are rising.

We would like to see things change for our children in NJ, and ensuring that each child gets recess is a good first step. We are pleased that the Senate has re-introduced the mandatory recess bill, #S847, but we would like to see it amended to 1) define recess to ensure that school districts do not try to use the bill to say that watching a movie is recess, and 2) mandate recess for grades 6-8 as well. We hope that this bill will pass in the Assembly and the Senate and that Governor Phil Murphy will sign it into law, as every child in the state has the right to recess; it should not be viewed as a privilege.



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