Florida Considers Revisions to School Recess Policies for Students

During a committee meeting on Wednesday, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo discussed several education deregulation policies, including one that may change how schools offer recess to students. The proposal, part of a trio of bills likely to be considered during the 2024 legislative session, would require schools to provide 100 minutes of recess over a week instead of the current daily mandate of 20 minutes.

According to Sen. Corey Simon, chair of the Education Pre-K committee, while districts would still need to ensure that students receive the full 100 minutes of recess, this reform would provide greater flexibility. Some districts, Simon explained, have half-day schedules or other circumstances that make it difficult to implement daily programs.

“[The bill] doesn’t do away with the requirement,” Simon clarified. “All this does is transfer the responsibility to the district so that you can have discussions with your superintendent and school board.”

Other reforms under consideration include streamlining teacher certification and training, removing policies that require school boards to provide economic security and district guidance reports to parents, and eliminating the requirement for each school district to offer voluntary prekindergarten in the summer.

The proposed recess initiative faced opposition during the public comment portion of the committee meeting. Angie Gallo, an Orange County School Board member and one of the “recess moms” who successfully advocated for the 20 minutes a day mandate in 2017, expressed concerns about giving districts too much flexibility.

Gallo urged the committee to leave the mandate intact, stating, “This is a wonderful bill. We just implore you to please, please, leave the mandate alone. What you’re doing will really make the mandate useless.”

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, expressed support for the overall direction of the trio of bills and agreed that power should be returned to the school districts. Spar believes that school districts should not be controlled from Tallahassee and that the Department of Education has too much influence, which interferes with parents’ preferences.

Spar emphasized the importance of recess time for kids but also highlighted the need for districts to have more autonomy in deciding how to allocate time for activities such as physical education, math instruction, and independent reading.

The committee unanimously passed the bill containing the recess reform on Wednesday.

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