Ten minutes is all the time available for recess in Fairfax County

In 2006, the Virginia Board of Education adopted revised Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia. These revisions added the words “and recess” to the section on the standard school day: “The standard school day for students in grades 1 through 12 shall average at least 5-1/2 hours, excluding breaks for meals and recess, and a minimum of three hours for kindergarten.”

This requirement is still in effect. To average a 5 ½ hour school day, the weekly program hours must be 27.5. Adding a 30 minute lunch period totals 30 hours per week. Any school time over 30 hours per week is available for recess. The three elementary schools with full day Mondays in Fairfax County this year give students a total of 32 hours and 55 minutes per week. They have ample time for recess as well as the required instructional time. However, the other Fairfax County elementary schools  give students only 30 hours and 50 minutes per week in school. Therefore, 50 minutes is available for recess during the five-day school week, or a total of 10 minutes per day.

This is ridiculous.  The Fairfax County school board should provide more time in the week by ending the Monday early dismissal policy.

Tonight the School Health Advisory Committee will urge the school board to set a minimum time for recess in elementary schools.  Let’s hope that the school board decides to take some action on this recommendation and decides on an amount of time that is greater than 10 minutes per day.

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2 Comments on “Ten minutes is all the time available for recess in Fairfax County”

  1. pommefrites says:

    Thank you for alerting the community of this unacceptable schedule. Children need adequate recess time AND adequate class time and teachers need adequate planning time. Given the current schedule this is not the case.

  2. You are right that it is possible to have adequate recess time, adequate class time, and adequate teacher planning time. There have been several proposals over the past 22 years to expand time for students by allowing full day Mondays. During the course of the week, there would be two additional hours of subjects taught by specialists. When the students are with the specialists, whether these are physical education teachers, art teachers, music teachers, or any other specialist, the classroom teacher has planning time.


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