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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Florida House amends school bill to no longer require daily recess

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 5:48 PM

  • Photo via Unionland on Flickr
We all have fond memories of swing sets and monkey bars from our school days, but this generation of students might soon lose most of their recess time.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that on Tuesday, March 28 members of a Florida House subcommittee amended a bill that would have ensured more recess time for elementary students.

The original HB 67, which is still intact in the Senate, called for "at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess each week," essentially 20 minutes a day.

Under the House's amended bill, recess would be legally required at most two days a week, and all of the state's fourth and fifth graders — 430,000 students — won't have any guarantees of recess.

Furthermore, the amended bill — which only applies to students between kindergarten and third grade — lets schools count recess time toward physical education requirements and requires districts to only offer recess on days P.E. classes aren't held.

Schools will have the option to offer more recess time if they choose.

Current state law mandates schools provide at least 150 minutes of P.E. each week, or 30 minutes for at least three days of the week.

Parents and "recess moms" angered by the amended bill say that P.E. and recess serve two different physical and psychological functions for students, and depriving them of recess puts Florida students at a disadvantage.

The House Pre-K-12 Innovation Subcommittee is just the first stop for the bill. It was the last bill considered by the subcommittee for the 2017 session, and will now move on to two more committees before being taken to the House floor.

Fifty-six House members signed on to co-sponsor the original version of the bill, including Orlando Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia.

Plasencia told the Tampa Bay Times that the revisions were necessary to ensure the bill would be considered in committee.

"We're making sure we have a bill that we know will travel successfully through the House," he says. "There are certain points during this process where in order to get bills heard and moving through committee, we need to make sure that the bill is put into a position where it can get from committee to committee."

The Senate's version of the recess bill — SB 78, sponsored by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores — will be discussed on the Senate floor on Thursday, with a final vote next week.

If the Senate's original version of the bill passes, the House could take up that version on the floor, circumventing the amendments it has made.

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