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Georgia passes law making recess mandatory for grades K-5

Starting next year, elementary students will be required to have unstructured break time every day.
More states are joining the mandatory recess movement. 
More states are joining the mandatory recess movement. FatCamera / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Recess is mandatory now for students in Georgia, thanks to a new law requiring recess for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Earlier this week Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a law making "unstructured break time" a requirement for elementary students.

"Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, each elementary school shall schedule recess for all students in kindergarten and grades one through five every school day," the bill reads.

Under the new legislation, teachers and school officials cannot take away a student’s recess for “disciplinary or academic reasons.”

Related: Want kids to listen more, fidget less? Try recess

The bill does not specifically state how much recess time will be given: Length and timing are up to the schools.

Georgia is the tenth state to mandate recess time, joining Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Students who get recess (or other unstructured play time at school) actually focus better in the classroom, suggests a study conducted by the CDC called “The Crucial Role of Recess in School.”

“Children develop intellectual constructs and cognitive understanding through interactive, manipulative experiences,” the report read. “This type of exploratory experience is a feature of play in an unstructured social environment.”

Related: Middle school brings back recess

Aside from cognitive benefits, social, emotional and physical benefits of recess time are undeniable, according to the CDC.

“There is a wealth of literature published on the need for and benefit of physical activity and fitness, not only for a child’s physical well-being but also for academic and social maturation,” the report read. “Although not all children play vigorously at recess, it does provide the opportunity for children to be active in the mode of their choosing and to practice movement and motor skills.”