On February 27 I requested a copy of any written policy on the subject of recess in the elementary schools in Fairfax County Public Schools and any instructions to elementary school principals regarding recess. On March 14, I received a reply from Brandynn Reaves, Public Information Specialist, Department of Communications & Community Outreach.
It is significant that there is currently no written directive about the length of time that should be allowed for recess. However, we need to keep in mind that the number of hours in the current elementary school week only allows enough time for a maximum of 10 minutes per day of recess while still meeting the state requirements for the length of time in the standard school day.
Here is the information on the FCPS policy regarding recess:
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Standards of Accreditation require a daily recess but the length of that recess or its location is not stipulated. The Code of Virginia §22.1-207 states that physical and health education shall be emphasized throughout the public school curriculum by lessons, drills and physical exercises, and all pupils in the public elementary, middle, and high schools shall receive as part of the educational program such health instruction and physical training as shall be prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the State Board of Health. Here is a link to the code: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+22.1-207.
Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) Regulation 5008.2 addresses recess in elementary schools. It states that “Elementary schools provide daily recess that promotes physical activity beyond physical education classes.” For your convenience here is a link to the regulation: http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/8JYHAH478D58/$file/R5008.pdf.
Additional information about Fairfax County Public School’s Health and Physical Education program can be found at: http://www.fcps.edu/is/hpe/index.shtml.
The Office of Safety and Security (OSS) encourages teachers and administrators at elementary schools to create a safe and fun environment for recess. When the weather is inclement or when there are extremes in temperature, FCPS will often issue warnings to administrators regarding air quality or student safety. Here is a link to the OSS’ Cold Weather Safety Sheet: http://www.fcps.edu/fts/safety-security/publications/seh-23.pdf. FCPS’ OSS also publishes a Safety Rules for Outdoor Recess Fact Sheet (SAF-2) and the Playground Supervision Guidelines for Staff and Volunteers Fact Sheet (SAF-33) which can be found on the OSS General School Safety Fact Sheet website.
School administrators are also reminded that the school grounds (to include the playgrounds) should be inspected daily by custodial staff to determine whether any vandalism or significant safety issues have occurred overnight. On playgrounds, school staff should be noting playground equipment or ground cover in need of repair or replenishment.