Parents want to bring recess back to Orange County schools

By Joel Schipper, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 10:23 PM EST

In Orange County a group of parents are trying to bring back an essential part of school days goneby: recess.

The parents are from a group called “Recess for all Orange County Students.”  They spoke at the pre-agenda meeting, urging the district to find a way to put 20-30 minutes of recess into each student’s day.

Currently 100 out of 123 elementary schools in Orange County have some recess time built into schedules a couple times a week. Parents say it needs to be daily.

“We are setting them up for failure. We’re putting them under pressure and not giving them an outlet,” said parent Heather Mellet.

New state mandates implemented for the 2014-2015 school year require schools to give students 150 minutes of Physical Education per week.

Parents said recess and P.E. classes are very different. P.E. is still considered a form of structured education, adding recess is a way for children to be social and learn to solve their own problems. 

“It’s a way they recharge," said Dr. Pamela Trout M.D., a pediatrician with Nemours. "And also they’re allowed to take their focus off of something so intense and they’re allowed to have free time, free play, imagination, encourage their social skills.”

After the meeting, Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said teachers in the country’s 10th largest district are already utilizing every minute of the day, adding mandating recess would be extremely difficult to do – even for next year.

“The majority of our teachers that were surveyed say, ‘I don’t feel like I have enough time to cover the standards, then we just cannot at the same time take additional instructional minutes away by a mandate in those classrooms,’” said Jenkins.

Some of the moms will now bring the issue to the state level by contacting legislators in Tallahassee. Something they plan on doing Wednesday.