Savannah-Chatham County School board debates mandated recess

Savannah-Chatham County School board debates mandated recess

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A proposed policy changing recess for kids in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is making headlines on social media.

A Wellness Committee spent two years working on the proposal. The current policy is overseen by the school board and mandates 10 minutes of recess for children K-5 each day. The new proposal would take the power from the school board, and place it into the hands of the faculty.

"So if a principal decides that recess is interfering with learning, they can take recess away," said SCCPSS President Jolene Byrne. "Children have their recess taken away all the time. That's the problem. Even with a board policy, children are losing recess. So if we take away that policy, that only protection that's there, then it's going to continue and it's going to get worse."

Currently, teachers are allowed to take recess away for disciplinary action. This would not be the case in the new policy, but it would allow teachers to revoke recess for safety and academic reasons.

Board member Julie Wade serves on the Wellness Committee that drafted the new proposal. She feels there should not be a blanket policy, and recess should be handled on a case by case basis.

"I'm willing to trust teachers to make decisions on behalf of what's best for the kids and not leave it to politicians to dictate how to manage their classrooms," said Wade. "Johnny may benefit from an academic intervention during recess. I'm comfortable allowing that teacher to control her classroom in that way."

There would not be a required recess for students in this proposal. Rather, it says schools will be encouraged to take a 30-minute break each day.

"I don't think we need to go in and say you must have 30 minutes recess. I just don't think that's the role of the board," Wade said.

A role Byrne feels is the board's obligation when countering with, "We are accountable to the community. Whenever we push this down on administrators, there's no longer accountability to you. To the community."

This proposal also extends to 6-12 grade students, but also only encourages breaks, and does not mandate recess.

The school board will have a first hearing of the proposal Wednesday.

Read the full proposal for recess policy change here.

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