By Renee Diaz
Washington State Journal 

Bill mandates recess for K-5 students

Senator tries to amend measure for violence


Last updated 3/2/2023 at 9:31pm

OLYMPIA — Public school elementary school students would be guaranteed 30 minutes of recess daily under a bill moving through the Legislature.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5257, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles, D-Fircrest, requires 30 minutes of recess and prevents school employees from denying recess as a disciplinary measure.

The bill passed the Senate, 28-21.

“Play is critical to positive youth development,” Nobles said. “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.”

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,” Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, said. “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.”

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, introduced an amendment that would have exempted students who pose an immediate threat to the safety of others.

His amendment failed, and Schoesler voted against passage of the bill. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, where it is schedule for an 8 a.m. hearing March 1 in the House Committee on Education.


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