It’s now up to Gov. Chris Christie whether to sign legislation that would require public schools in New Jersey to provide at least 20 minutes a day of recess for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.
State Sen. Shirley Turner said children spend too much time in front of TVs and computers at home. Mandatory school recess will help them get the exercise they need, she said.
“It’ll save the taxpayers and society a great deal in the long run because we won’t continue to see all of this childhood obesity, which leads to diabetes as well as high blood pressure that causes so much to increase our health care costs,” said Turner, D-Mercer.
Giving kids a break to play outside helps them focus better on their studies when they return to the classroom, she said.
Many kids in urban areas can’t go out and play when they get home because their parents are worried about gangs and criminal activity in the neighborhood.
“So, if they can’t run and play at school, then they’re going to be imprisoned in their homes and sit there in front of a TV or doing their homework and not getting the physical activity that they need,” Turner said.
Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, said while recess is important, how much and how often should be determined by individual school districts.
“Districts logistically have schools that are in various locations that might not be appropriate for outdoor recess,” he said. “Schools are structured and built differently. So there are some variables that do need to be considered.”