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Flagler’s Elementary Schools Will Accommodate New Requirement
of 20 Minutes of Recess Per Day

| July 20, 2017

More time to hang. (Heather Temske)

More time to hang. (Heather Temske)

Education officials in Flagler and across the state opposed for many reasons a massive education bill Gov. Rick Scott signed in mid-June. One of those reasons was a new rule about recess: every elementary school student is to have 100 minutes of recess per week.

The law was not clear: would students have to have 20 consecutive minutes per day? Does physical education count as recess? The impact of the mandate could not be gauged until the state Department of Education last week issued an explanatory memo to the state’s 67 superintendents.

The memo specified that starting shortly after school resumes in August, “students in grades K-5 are required to receive 100 minutes of unstructured, free-play recess each week so that there is a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes each day.” The memo further specified that “the 100 minutes of recess are in addition to the 150 minutes of physical education that is required each week,” and is defined as “supervised, safe and unstructured free play. The 150 minutes of physical education is standards-based instructional time.”

Local districts may implement the law as they see fit beyond that, including whether to hold the required recess time indoors or outdoors. In other words, “recess” could be redefined to mean non-instructional time held even in classrooms, or at the library, or as an extension of lunch in the cafeteria, though the law does specify a “free play” requirement.

The memo included an “assurance” document superintendent must sign, certifying that their district will be in compliance as of Sept. 1.

Flagler Superintendent James Tager said he is ready to sign: the district is already close to compliance, and will need to make only minor adjustments to be in full compliance.

“We feel like we’re within the rules,” Tager said in an interview this week. “We’ve already offered the kids what they need.”

Currently students in Flagler already have the recess allowance at roughly 15 minutes per day. “I don’t know if Jacob had the foresight to see this coming,” Tager said, referring to Jacob Oliva, his predecessor, with whom he spoke about the recess issue this week. “We were pretty liberal with the time our kids had with recess already.” The required time extension in the Flagler district will not cost more money, as it will be accommodated within the existing school schedule.

Some districts have misinterpreted the law and tried to count “active” time during music and arts classes as recess time. That’s not going to work. (Flagler is not among those districts.) “Under our present system it appears we’re OK, but it’s being looked at still,” Tager said.

Trevor Tucker, who chairs the school board, said that while the state requires 30 minutes of physical education per week, Flagler was providing closer to 50 minutes per day. “That’s why we can have the 20 minutes and it doesn’t mess everything up, is my understanding,” Tucker said. The addition, he said, is not going to have a financial burden. “It only becomes a financial burden if we end up having to add time. It probably would never have been a financial burden because we do have other required things during the day, but we want to keep those things.”

The 100-minute requirement applies to traditional public schools, not to charter schools or to private schools. Full-time virtual school students are also exempt.

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5 Responses for “Flagler’s Elementary Schools Will Accommodate New Requirement
of 20 Minutes of Recess Per Day”

  1. Sw says:

    They had no recess prior to this being passed. That explains a lot

  2. Mother of 2 says:

    Recess is important to children in thier development for several r3reasons! I also think they need more time at lunch to actually sit and eat thier food after standing in line for 15 minutes to even get it!! I have to make sure my children eat in the middle of the day and when they come home more then not complaining they didn’t have time to eat…is really upsetting!

  3. Bartholomew says:

    Not a biggie, My grandson’s school has 30 minutes recess everyday. Only thing is some teachers would use that time if a student did not finish work. That probably has to change.

  4. Bartholomew says:


    Wow, 15 minutes is a long time to get through the line. At my grandson’s school they have three lines and it goes quickly.

    When I go there most kids are done with about 5 minutes to go.

    I would complain about not getting to eat. Are your children young? Is the school crowded?

  5. FlaglerCountyCitizen says:

    Does this mean that taking a child’s recess away for discipline is off limits now?

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