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Recess Makes Return to Chicago Schools

Guest post by Gina Cairney

Students, parents, and educators in the Chicago public schools, rejoice, for recess is back starting this school year.

Many Chicago schools started nixing recess from their school days more than 30 years ago, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Adding recess back to the school day was part of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push for longer school days, according to WBEZ91.5. Now, elementary schools in the district are moving to a seven hour day, and high schools are moving to a 7.5 hour day. (For more details on Chicago's new extended-learning schedule, check out our Beyond School blog.)

It only took roughly 30 years for recess to return, but perhaps now is better than never, considering the high rates of childhood obesity throughout the country.

There's a growing amount of evidence linking physical activity and academic success, and a study from earlier this year highlighted the benefits of recess for young children.

With input from parents, teachers, and school principals, Chicago administrators released guidelines last year to help elementary schools create a recess plan, according to a press release, laying out details on how communities can create and offer recess options for students.

Treyonda Towns, a parent of three, told WBEZ that she was excited for the recess time because it might cut down on the frustration, and her children will have "time to release."

With increased focus on instructional time to boost test scores and narrow achievement gaps, though, it'll be worth monitoring whether other districts throughout the country without a definitive recess plan will follow Chicago in creating one. (The Healthy Schools Campaign has an analysis on the health and wellness of the Chicago district here.)

But as Reuters points out, unless there's some hard evidence showing a correlation that physical education and recess raise test scores, recess may be left by the wayside in many districts.

Schools' mission is not about the obesity rate, but the achievement rate after all.

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