Parents concerned about lack of play time in school

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A group of parents approached the Oxford School Board on Monday regarding the importance of recess after learning it is being taken away as punishment and even eliminated completely in at least one school in the district.

Recess advocate Whitman Smith said when recess is proven to have so many benefits, every minute counts.

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“We’re not here to argue, yell and criticize, we’re here to solve,” Smith said.

Smith said there is a distinction between physical education classes that have a structured setting and recess. Students are sitting still and quiet for hours of class and sometimes their recess time is cut into to complete assignments. At Oxford Intermediate School, students have no recess at all.

Smith said due to the evidence that proves recess is valuable, students should be entitled to a reasonable amount of time for recess.

Smith offered solutions such as having a free time before school in the morning. A scheduled break in the day for students and teachers is also possible. Smith said research shows if students are given free time before school starts they will even eat more fruits and vegetables.

“We also are willing as a group to spearhead a fundraising effort,” Smith said. “If the issue is there is no fence, we’d like to raise money for a fence.”

Smith said the parents were there to solve the problem.

Cristen Hemmins spoke on behalf of her daughter who had half of her recess taken away because she was talking in class. Hemmins said her daughter was segregated from her classmates and not allowed to interact with them.

Hemmins said she would like to see more instructors realize the intellectual importance of having recess.

“I’m so appreciative of all our educators and teachers, but this recess issue is close to my heart,” Hemmins said.

Oxford School Board District Superintendent Brian Harvey said there is no OSD policy that takes recess away in those schools that allow recess.

“There are no school policies that I know of that exist about taking recess,” Harvey said.

Harvey said if recess is taken away from students for punishment to contact the school principal and report it.

“The principal will address it with the teacher who is doing that,” Harvey said. “That’s not a practice we want to do.”

The school board did not give a definite answer to the concerns but it is willing to work with the parents in the coming year.