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Morning Poll: Should Fairfax County mandate recess in middle school?

Fairfax County Public Schools plans to start requiring recess for middle school students (courtesy FCPS Office of Communication and Community Relations)

The Fairfax County School Board is set to require recess at the middle school level for the first time starting next school year.

Under a health and wellness policy revision to be voted on this month, middle schools would be required to have a 15-minute supervised recess break, and elementary school students will get two recess breaks per day, totaling at least 30 minutes.

While the recess requirement is not new for elementary school students, the mandate for middle schools would be a first for the county, although some have implemented one without being required to, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

The health and wellness policy defines recess as “student-selected structured and unstructured play.” Teachers and staff can’t withhold recess from students “to manage behavior” or use it for instructional activities, including classwork and homework.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recess helps students by providing an outlet for physical activity, reducing disruptive behaviors, and improving memory, attention and social skills.

After FFXnow published an article about the proposed mandate, hundreds of people shared or commented on it on Facebook.

Many supported recess for middle school or wondered why it wasn’t already required. Others were confused why it was needed or what students in middle school would do with that time without jungle gyms like elementary-aged students. Would they just play on their cell phones?

What do you think? Is recess unnecessary at the middle school level? Or do you think middle schoolers — heck, everyone — could benefit from a little fresh air for mental clarity?

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