Testimony--Betsy Ginsburg on Mandatory 20-Minute Recess (Senate Education Committee, 1-25-18)

Good morning Senator Ruiz and members of the Committee.  I am Betsy Ginsburg, Executive Director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.  This morning I want to speak about S847, mandating 20 minutes of daily recess for children in grades K-5.

            We support the intent of this bill and believe that daily recess promotes overall student wellbeing, and helps decrease discipline problems and student stress.  A few changes will make it much easier for districts to provide this much-needed respite for our children.

            Our concerns are about logistics and school capacity.  Some schools use directed recess periods to help meet the required number of minutes for physical education.  If schools are not allowed to continue the practice, they must find other time in the school day to fulfill the physical education, health and safety mandate.  The elementary school experience today is much more content- rich than the elementary school experience most of us remember.  In order to find the extra minutes for physical education, teachers will have to take time from other subjects.

            Many schools are relatively small and use their gyms as cafeterias.  Finding recess space on inclement days will be a challenge.  In order to meet this challenge, we recommend delaying implementation of the 20-minute recess requirement for 12 months to give schools a chance to plan the most effective ways of fulfilling it.