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What happened to recess?

August 17, 2010

Playing games after lunch may become a thing of the past in East Providence elementary schools. The district is re-thinking recess, but the changes have sparked controversy.

Kids used to have ten minutes after lunch to play, but starting this fall, elementary students will have 25 minutes to sit and eat lunch and then return to class.

The policy has upset some parents, who say kids need time to play. Superintendent Mario Cirillo says there will still be recess, but it will be supervised by teachers at other times of the day.

“That word recess is what’s getting everybody,” Cirillo said. “We’re not eliminating anything from these kids, we’re enhancing what they already have and the enhancement is more time, more structure under the supervision of certified personnel.”

Cirillo says the change allows 20 more minutes of gym class each week, to bring the district in line with state requirements. Child development experts are worried about a national decline in unstructured playtime, which they say is important for brain development.

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