Ending Monday early dismissals would allow more than 10 minutes for recess

The Time and Learning Task Force 1996 recommendation that schools should be able to choose whether to have full day Mondays was never a very practical solution to handling the controversy of a major schedule change in Fairfax County Public Schools.  Now times have changed and there are even more problems caused by the Monday early dismissal policy. State regulations now specify that recess is not counted as part of the school day. In response to that change in the regulation, Fairfax County added five minutes to the elementary school day in most schools in September 2007.

Here is a paragraph from a memo Superintendent Jack D. Dale sent to the school board August 3, 2007:

The bell schedules for the 2007-2008 school year are attached. The bell schedules are grouped by cluster and list special programs, number of buses (both general & special education), and times for this school year and last. Those schools that have had a complete change in bell schedule are listed in bold print. In order to be compliant with state requirements, all elementary schools have also had five minutes added to the ends of their days.

After this change, the schools had 10 minutes per day available for recess. Is ten minutes really adequate? Many teachers and principals don’t think so, and so many students are allowed to have recess periods of 20 or 30 minutes. Clearly the current amount of time in the elementary school week is inadequate and the school board needs to add additional time to the elementary school week. The best way of achieving this goal is ending the Monday early dismissal policy.

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