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New Georgia law prevents schools from withholding recess as punishment

Recess will now be required for all elementary schools under a new Georgia law. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the law earlier this week, requiring all students from kindergarten to fifth grade to have unstructured play time every single day.

The law, which goes into effect next school year, also prohibits schools from withholding recess from students due for disciplinary or academic reasons. This means that taking away recess as a form of punishment is no longer allowed in Georgia elementary schools.

State Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D), who sponsored the bill, tells WSB-TV2 news that movement and being outdoors is essential for kids for many reasons. Douglas himself was an All-American linebacker at UGA and played pro football in the U.S. and Canada.

Related: The benefits of recess are proven by science—so why are teachers taking it away?

“It is time for our students to get moving and learn how to play with each other again,” Douglas said. “Before HB 1283 was signed into law, our state only required schools to offer recess once a week; however, many elementary school students spend the majority of their school day in one classroom, which limits their ability to make new friends and build social skills. Recess is a crucial part of a child’s learning experience, and this legislation ensures that elementary schools students can have a chance to enjoy recess.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recess benefits kids not only by increasing their physical activity, but by improving their memory, attention, and concentration, too. Giving kids unstructured, physical playtime helps them stay on-task in the classroom and reduces disruptive behavior. Recess also helps kids improve their social and emotional development with other kids.

Related: The important reason why kids need more playtime (especially during the school year)

Georgia is the tenth state to mandate recess time, joining Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

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