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Chicago Schools to Make Recess Mandatory for Elementary Students

Starting next fall, all Chicago public elementary schools will be required to provide recess on a daily basis for their students, under the district's new extended learning day plan.

My colleague Nora Fleming has written extensively about the Chicago initiative to lengthen the school day, which began this past year.

Long story short: All K-12 Chicago schools will be providing a 450-minute school day to students starting next school year. Currently, elementary schools in Chicago run for 345 minutes per week, while high schools go for 414 minutes per week.

Included in the new plan's 450 minutes, at least for elementary schools: a mandatory 45-minute period for lunch and recess. Under the current schedule, elementary schools provide students a 20-minute lunch, but no recess.

The plan also specifies how much time should be devoted to each particular subject in school on a daily basis. Unlike literacy, math, science, and social studies, physical education didn't get placed into its own category.

Instead, schools with grades 1 through 8 must provide a certain amount of three combined subjects: phys. ed., arts education, and intervention or acceleration. Grades 1-2 must receive 140 minutes of the three per day; grades 3-5 must have 90 minutes; and grades 6-8 must receive 120 minutes.

"We do anticipate schools will need to hire more teachers," especially in arts and physical education, said the district's chief of instruction Jennifer Cheatham, to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Cheatham said that while schools will have the final decision on how to allocate the minutes between phys. ed. and the other two activities, "I think the expectation is that every school will offer arts and other enriching opportunities along with P.E."

Worth noting: At the high school level, sports can be counted as physical education instruction, according to the plan.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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