Norfolk parents pushing for more recess time for elementary students


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As children prepare to head back to class after winter break, one group is renewing its push for more time outside of class. 

10 On Your Side spoke with one parent who’s behind the push for more play time in Norfolk Public Schools.

Elementary students get less than half an hour of recess.  

NPS allows for at least 20 minutes of recess but some parents said that’s just not enough.

A group called More Recess for Virginians – Norfolk is hoping a recently enacted law will help their cause.

Whitney Davis said her concerns about the amount of recess time began last school year when her daughter started kindergarten.

“She came home last year upset. She came home saying school isn’t fun,” Davis said. “She was burnt out and I think man if this is kindergarten then what’s next?”

A former kindergarten teacher herself, Davis believes the amount of recess time is a direct correlation.

“She has 20 minutes and she gets that 20 minutes at the last period of the day,” Davis said.

That’s the minimum amount of time allowed according to Norfolk Public Schools’ Wellness Policy. The policy also recommends recess be taken before lunch. 

Davis said more time is needed.

“Play is just crucial, play is essential. It’s not a break. It really is essential for childhood development and learning,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, recess improves kids’ memory, it helps them stay on task and reduces disruptive behavior. 

This past July, a law went into effect that allows schools to increase recess up to 50 minutes. The law also specifies the extended time can be considered part of instructional time.

10 On Your Side asked the district if more recess time is being considered. A spokeswoman said NPS continues to evaluate its options.

In the meantime, Davis’ Facebook group is slowly growing. She’s also working with Virginia Beach parents who are pushing for more time in their district.

“We’ve been bouncing ideas off each other and trying to support each other, I know Roanoke is working towards it too,” she said. “It really should be utilized to the fullest and I’m really hoping we can get this 50 minutes.”

Davis plans to keep going to school board meetings and hopes to eventually get the issue on the agenda. 

If you’re interested in getting involved with More Recess for Virginians – Norfolk, click here.

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