Decatur School Board considering new school recess policy; recess could be held up as punishment – ​​Decaturish

This story has been updated.

Decatur, Georgia — At the August 9 meeting of the Decatur School Board, board members will discuss a proposed recess policy for students.

An idea that already worries parents: deprive children of recess as a punishment.

The draft policy states that “every elementary school must provide recess for all students in kindergarten and grades one through five in each school.”

The draft policy also states that “breaks may be denied to students for disciplinary or academic reasons if advance notice is provided to students.”

It is unclear from the draft policy whether this would apply to all students or only grades 6-8.

There’s a new state law that makes recess mandatory for elementary school students, but provides some exceptions, according to the Associated Press. There is a growing nationwide movement to protect recess and in 2013 the American Academy of Pediatrics stated, “Recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons”.

A parent concerned about the new policy wrote to Superintendent Maggie Fehrman calling the idea “shocking.”

She forwarded Fehrman’s response to Decaturish. The superintendent said the idea was being considered by the board and nothing had been decided yet.

“This policy is only up for discussion tonight, and the board will not be voting to approve this policy tonight,” Fehrman said. “As the board returns to the normal board governance of the previous model, it needs to revisit the standard policy language written for us by [the Georgia School Boards Association]. At tonight’s meeting, the board will make recommendations to modify the project to align it with what works for schools in the city of Decatur. Once the draft is edited with suggestions from the Board, the draft will be reviewed again before the Board votes to approve the policy.

Fehrman later told Decaturish that the school board was moving back to a standard policy manual and governance structure rather than having a model with termination policies. She added that the CSD is aligned with all state laws and required policies.

“In 2018, the board adopted a new policy manual structured according to a different type of political governance, called the Carver model. In this model, the board sets the ‘Ends’ policies and delegates a great deal of autonomy to the CEO,” Fehrman said. “The handbook that was adopted is not one that the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) recommends, as it also does not align with many policies required by the state. Accordingly, the current Board has elected to revert to a standard policy manual and governance structure that was in place prior to the adoption of this 2018 manual. The Board has made this decision, to ensure that CSD is fully aligned with all required state laws and policies, as well as utilizing a governance structure supported by the GSBA. Also, as a restless person, who also needs to get up and take short walks throughout the day, I wouldn’t support removing playtime for kids and even encourage stretch breaks and rides for every student and staff member in our system.

For more information on tonight’s meeting, including instructions on how to weigh in via public comment, click here.

Here is the full language of the proposed policy:

Every elementary school must schedule recess for all students in kindergarten and grades one through five each school day; provided, however, that recess is not required on school days on which a student has had time for physical education or structured activity or if reasonable circumstances prevent such recess, such as inclement weather when ‘no indoor space is available, assemblies or classified trips exceeding their scheduled duration, conflicts arising at scheduled recess time over which the teacher has no control, or emergencies, disasters or acts of God.

The school board allows the scheduling of unstructured breaks for students in grades 6-8, at the discretion of the school principal.

The school principal is authorized to determine the duration, frequency, time and place of breaks. In determining the schedule of recess or unstructured breaks for students, the principal should consult with appropriate teaching staff at the school and system level, as applicable, to ensure that breaks do not not interfere with school learning and that they support it. The principal must also issue guidelines regarding the responsibility of supervising students so that the break is a safe experience for them.

Breaks may be denied to students for disciplinary or academic reasons if advance notice is given to students.

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