fairfax county public schools

Fairfax County Considers Permanently Implementing Recess at Middle Schools

"It just helps me clear my mind so that I can focus for the rest of the day"

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Middle school students in Fairfax County, Virginia, could get a daily recess next school year if the public school board votes in favor of requiring the break.

All public middle schools began experimenting with integrating a 15 minute break into their schedules this year.

At Herndon Middle School, the principal devised an elaborate schedule, rotating groups of students to different locations each day such as the blacktop, the picnic tables, a grassy area or the gym.

Students also have the option of staying inside, and one teacher remains in the classroom.

The recess time is considered an important part of the overall student health and wellness plan.

"It's pretty good because we get to play outside and stuff and instead of sitting in the classroom all day," 7th grader Nathan Childers said.

Seventh grade student Mazzy Johnston calls it a “brain break.”

"I just like running around and just playing outside. It just helps me clear my mind so that I can focus for the rest of the day," Johnston said.

The principal says students aren’t the only ones sold on the plan.

"The teachers here at Herndon Middle recognized right away a break would be good for the students, especially one where they could choose to do something that they enjoyed — to have some fun," Herndon Middle School Principal Justine Klena said.

The breaks also give students added time to socialize.

"It gives the kids a chance to get their energy out. They're in class all day. This gives them a chance to express themselves and be with their friends and to give another component for their learning," Social Studies Teacher Karari Johnson said.

But one 7th grade student wonders if daily recess is really manageable.

"I believe it is a good mental break, but a lot of middle schoolers might abuse the privilege of having recess in negative ways like using their phones, causing fights and drama," Alique Bland said.

The school board is expected to vote this week on whether to require the middle school break next year.

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