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Florida Lawmakers Want Recess In Schools A Right, Not A Privilege

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Lindsey Kilbride


It’s winter break for most public school students. Some of them spent one of their last days of freedom at Kona, a Jacksonville skate park.

Fifth-grader Sam Myers was practicing some tricks Wednesday afternoon.


“Well I like doing the half-pipe which is really fun,” Myers says. “I recently just mastered doing a thing on it so that’s really fun, and I like just kind of going down ramps and gaining speed.”

At school, Sam says, he likes to play football, and a day without recess would be unacceptable.

“It would be pretty boring, plus I’d get pretty fat,” he says.

Wendy Peseck is a nurse who was watching her son and daughter skate at Kona on Wednesday. She says she supports required recess in elementary schools.


Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
St. Johns County fifth-grader Sam Myers skateboards at Jacksonville's Kona Skate Park on Wed., Dec. 30.

“They have to burn the calories they’re consuming, so that’s one way they do it, and I think it’s really hard on them when they do nothing but academics all day long,” Peseck says. “Their brain needs a break just like we do.”

So some Florida legislators want to mandate elementary-school kids have at least 20 minutes of recess, even if they misbehave. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg) is co-sponsoring the bill that would make recess time law.

“I know from my own kids’ experience, I like to get them out and run them around, wear them out a little bit, and then they come back again and they’re a little more focused and can do things,” he says.

Earlier this year, Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti sent a letter to teachers encouraging them to take students outside—beyond recess—when they seem too restless.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.