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7/20/2016 Legislation requiring schools to have at least 20 minutes of free play recess signed into law
STATE HOUSE — Gov. Gina Raimondo signed legislation introduced by Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) and Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) that requires elementary schools to have at least 20 minutes of free play recess during the school day during a ceremonial bill signing today in the State Room at the State House.

The law (2016-H 7644Aaa, 2016-S 2669Aaa), which defines free play as being in an unstructured environment supervised by appropriate school personnel, discourages schools from taking away recess for academic or punitive reasons. The law applies to pupils in kindergarten through sixth grade.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk. The organization has stated that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.

According to the legislation, free play recess may be considered instructional time for those schools that would be required to extend the current school day in order to meet this requirement. In addition, it requires teachers to make a good faith effort to not withhold recess for punitive reasons. Although recess and physical education both promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, it is only supervised but unstructured recess that offers children the opportunity to actually play creatively, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903