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The Recess Bell May Be Finished Ringing

August 31, 2004, 4:37 PM by DeeAnn Tiede

The Recess Bell May Be Finished Ringing

A controversial trend is creeping into our nation's schools and a version of it is making it's way into Sioux Falls. Schools in Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey are getting rid of recess, under the belief that the time is better spent in the classroom.

It hasn't come to that yet here at home, there are some changes on the playground that parents might not be aware of.

President Bush's No Child Left Behind Law has education leaders pulling out all the stops when it comes to helping your students achieve higher test scores, and that means these playgrounds could be sitting empty a little more often.

Recess has long served as a chance for children to run off steam; to regroup before hitting the books again. But now some Sioux Falls elementary students are having their playground time cut short. Over the summer, principals agreed to standardized the recess policy.

Kindergarten, first, and second graders still get playground time in the morning, at lunch and in the afternoon. Time for third, fourth, and fifth graders is being cut back. In the end, students will lose about twenty minutes each week.

Beth Vroman, a parent,says, "Within the first minute of coming home, he said, 'mom, we don't have morning recess anymore,' and then this morning he was brushing his teeth and he said, 'oh, it's going to be a long morning."

Beth Vroman's third grader at Laura Wilder Elementary noticed the change right away.

Beth Vroman says, "My number one concern I guess is the exercise issue. When you're looking at kids being overweight and it's a nationwide epidemic, it doesn't make any sense to cut the recess."

John Harris Elementary principal Dr. Bob Hemre sees both sides. Dr. Bob Hemre says, "Some of the rationale behind that was if youngsters had physical education class in the morning, it didn't seem necessary to have recess in the morning too."

He knows students need to be fit in mind and body.

Dr. Bob Hemre says, "We really certainly support kids having a certain amount of physical activity during the school day and they get that through physical education, through art and music classes as well as classroom activity - in addition to recess periods so hopefully we're providing those avenues for kids to release some of that energy."

Beth Vroman says, "I understand more time on task in terms of the whole No Child Left Behind - that's a big push but don't cut recess."

Beth Vroman isn't the only concerned parent. We've received emails and phone calls from other parents who don't like the change. Principals studied the recess issue and then recommended the change. Parents say they wish they could've been part of the discussion.

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