Mandated recess time up for debate again in Florida legislature

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - How much time should kids spend outside during school?

That's the question once again up for debate in the Florida legislature.

Senator Anitere Flores, a Republican from Miami has proposed Senate Bill 78 aimed at public school recess. The bill working its way through subcommittees.

The bill description reads: "Public School Recess; Requiring each district school board to provide students in certain grades with a minimum number of minutes of free-play recess per week and with a minimum number of consecutive minutes of free-play recess per day, etc."

In the bill text, it suggests that each school district board should provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess each week, providing at least 20 minutes of consecutive free-play per day.

Local grandmother Susan Jackson has a daughter in middle school who doesn't get recess. She remembers always being able to have recess when she was a student.

"Well I think that the more time they have to be able to run around outside and do whatever outside," Jackson said. "I think it helps them a lot of times now they're too confined into the house with their computers and iPhones and everything else that they don't get enough outdoor stuff,"

According to Denise Kelly with Bay District schools, recess time is a "site-based" decision in Bay County, often left up to the principal's discretion.

She said most students in the district get at least 15 minutes of play a day. But it's not mandated by district policy or law. And, she said, students often don't have P.E. and recess in the same day.

Mandated recess time would also have to contend with additional time recently mandated for lower performing schools, which requires additional reading instruction.