APS News Release

Changes to APS Elementary School Recess Schedules to Align with New Virginia Law

A Message to All APS Elementary School Parents:

As you may have read in the Washington Post or other recent news coverage, a new Virginia law went into effect on July 1, enabling school divisions to increase available time for unstructured play and recreation in elementary schools as a part of the instructional day.

As a result of this new state law, we wanted to let you know that APS is taking advantage of this opportunity and we are updating our guidelines for elementary recess and physical education. APS will now provide a minimum of 30 minutes of recess per day for all APS elementary school students, beginning with the 2018-19 school year. The law defines recess as “unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness.” This does not include the time for “structured physical fitness” activities during the week (a minimum of 60 minutes for grades K-2 and 90 minutes for grades 3-5). It also does not include any recreational time that schools may provide before or after the instructional day.

We recognize that unstructured play and physical activity are an important part of student learning and well-being, and we are pleased to provide this opportunity for our students. This also supports our new Strategic Plan goal to meet the needs of the whole child. Many APS schools already provide at least 30 minutes of recess, and the new guidelines will help ensure consistency in recess time across all APS elementary schools.

Passed by the General Assembly in March and signed by Governor Ralph Northam in April, the new law enables school districts to devote up to 15 percent of state-mandated instructional time to recess in elementary schools and, recognizing that this is an important part of a young child’s education, the state Department of Education will now count this time as part of the instructional day.

The APS Wellness Policy and Procedures will be updated to reflect the 30 minute per day recess minimum for elementary students. In addition, to ensure that all school staff are prepared to implement the new recess requirements, APS is working with school principals to adjust the instructional day schedules for the new school year. If you have any questions about this change, please speak with the principal at your child’s school.