Recess expected to come to all Fairfax Co. middle schools next year

Virginia’s largest school system is expected to approve a daily recess requirement for middle school students that would go into effect next school year.

The Fairfax County, Virginia, school board pushed a final vote on the measure to next month, but Superintendent Scott Brabrand said middle school principals are already working on how to incorporate the short recess period into daily schedules.

The proposed changes to the student and staff health and wellness policy would require recess for both elementary and middle school students. Supervised recess would be offered to middle school students every day for 15 minutes and to elementary school students in two separate 15-minute segments “as practicable.”

School principals, under the new policy, are urged to take action in accordance with county policies if there are safety or security concerns that impact the availability of recess.

“Mental health professionals have expressed the benefits of a daily break for all, and most importantly, our students who enter our buildings at 7:30 a.m. and don’t see a ray of sunshine until dismissal,” said school board member Ricardy Anderson.

School board member Melanie Meren said she has spoken to two middle school principals about how to implement the change to daily schedules.

“There’s actually been a lot of sharing of what is turning out to be some best practices around how they’re going forward,” Meren said. “One middle school talked about trying to have teachers tag team so that they could each be responsible for a group that wanted to go outside and a group that wants to stay inside.”

All middle schools are offering recess or breaks this school year, the school system said.

“Next year, it will be required by policy and [schools will] ensure that it is every day,” the county said in a statement.

The board opted to postpone the vote late Thursday after some board members said they didn’t have time to review revisions to the proposed policy.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for April 14.

If the proposed policy is approved, the changes would go into effect during the next school year.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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