MCPS Examining Ways To Increase Recess Time

MCPS Examining Ways To Increase Recess Time

Pilot program in wellness initiative would be tried at six elementary schools

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Photo via MCPS

A pilot program that would expand recess time at six elementary schools is being considered by the Montgomery County school system as part of a new initiative to get students more physically active.

The initiative, outlined in a memo to school board members that contains limited detail, would begin in the fall and is designed to “allow increased time for unstructured physical activity during the school day,” according to school board documents.

Consideration of a county program comes after perennial efforts to mandate 90 minutes of physical education time for all Maryland students each week failed again in this year’s state legislature.

“This program will allow participating schools to arrange schedules with increased opportunities for kinesthetic breaks and/or extended recess,” according to school board documents, which spell out that teachers would select and run the additional activities and participation would be voluntary.

Superintendent Jack Smith has said the school system is aware of the importance of physical activity, noting it can improve academic performance, students’ ability to focus and overall wellness. He has said the increased recess initiative is part of a larger-scale “Be Well 365: The Framework to Support the Physical, Social and Psychological Well-being of All Students” program to be discussed at a school board meeting next week.

National guidelines cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest children from ages 6 to 17 should get at least one hour of physical activity a day.

Along with the recess initiative, 65 elementary and middle schools have collaboratively established a “Local School Wellness Council” of staff, students, parents and community members to promote ways to enhance student health, including physical activity.

A memo to the school board said results of the pilot programs will help guide larger-scale physical activity initiatives that have “minimal impact” on instructional time.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at

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