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Florida passes bill requiring 20 minute recess for elementary-schools

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Posted at 3:21 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 17:20:15-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A bill that would require at least 20 minutes a day of recess for elementary-school students passed by a vote of 112 to two in the Florida House of Representatives late Thursday.

At a news conference earlier in the day, parents and lawmakers in support of the bipartisan legislation talked about the importance of allowing kids a break from academic work.

Christie Bruner is a mother of three from Saint Petersburg, who has traveled to the state capitol several times this year in support of the bill. She says there is no consistent policy on recess among schools.

Bruner says, “We have some schools that have recess, and some schools that do not. We don’t see that as fair. It should be across the board. It shouldn’t be that one teacher likes it, and another teacher doesn’t. All kids need a break, and it’s not fair to them.”

State Representative Eric Eisnaugle is a co-sponsor of the House bill. He says since many local school districts have not taken it upon themselves to make sure students get recess, it is important that the legislature demands it.

“If we want our kids to learn and to grow academically, and to do well going forward, they have to be able to have this exercise and this time outside in recess to clear their minds and get ready for the rest of the day.”

Under the bill, recess could not be taken away from children because of disciplinary or academic reasons. The major hurdle for the legislation is in the Florida Senate, where the chairman of that chamber’s Education Pre-K through 12 committee has so far declined to hear the bill, with just over three weeks remaining in the 2016 session. Some local school districts feel requiring recess time an unnecessary mandate from the state.