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Mandatory recess for elementary students approved over objections

Elementary schools will be required to give students 30 minutes of recess every day and teachers would be prohibited from denying recess as a disciplinary measure, under a bill that passed the Senate despite objections.

The bill, ESSB 5257, is sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles, D-Fircrest, and passed with a vote of 28-21.

“Play is critical to positive youth development. What we know about recess is it can lower cortisol levels. It can increase problem-solving, and it can help our students build relationships with each other when they are playing,” Nobles said.

Some lawmakers argued a teacher’s ability to take away recess is the only appropriate form of leverage they have to counter defiant behavior.

“I think the underlying bill is overly prescriptive and could create quite a bit of challenge to school districts throughout the state,” said Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee. “The appropriate venue to deal with this bill is for parents within their local communities with their locally elected school boards, not the Washington State Senate.”

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.