ATLANTA — A bill that would make recess mandatory for elementary schools all across Georgia has been signed into law.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the law Monday afternoon. The law requires school districts to have recess for students from kindergarten to fifth grade and will go into effect next school year.
Under the law, schools will not be able to withhold recess from students for disciplinary or academic reasons.
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State Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D - Stockbridge) sponsored the bill. Douglas was an All-American linebacker at UGA. He also played pro football in the U.S. and Canada, and has coached many high school players.
“It is time for our students to get moving and learn how to play with each other again,” Douglas said. “Before HB 1283 was signed into law, our state only required schools to offer recess once a week; however, many elementary school students spend the majority of their school day in one classroom, which limits their ability to make new friends and build social skills. Recess is a crucial part of a child’s learning experience, and this legislation ensures that elementary schools students can have a chance to enjoy recess.”
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This year was the third time Douglas has tried to get the recess bill passed.
Douglas said it actually did pass both the House and Senate in 2019 only to be vetoed by the governor. He said the governor thought a recess policy would be better handled at the local district level.
Earlier this year, Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke with Douglas when the bill received a committee hearing.
Douglas believes the two-year pandemic has only worsened the obesity problem among school-aged children in Georgia. He also worries a lack of physical exercise will hurt children’s mental health as well.
“I know how important this is for their cognitive learning, and some of the behavioral problems that they have in elementary school, they won’t have,” Douglas told Elliot. “And the teachers need a break.”
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