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Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law legislation that mandates Arizona public schools provide at least two recess periods per day for its youngest students.

The approval of Senate Bill 1083 was long overdue, according to many parents and recess advocates who felt the state needed to intervene to preserve elementary students' dwindling playtime.

The legislation requires school districts and charter schools provide at least two recess periods a day for students in kindergarten through third grade starting next school year. In 2019, the law will expand to include students through fifth grade.

"We are celebrating today," said Christine Davis, a parent in the Madison School District who founded the Arizonans for Recess group that lobbied for the legislation.

"This has been a long, hard road for our coalition and the advocates that came before us, but we are grateful for the state leaders that stood strong for childhood and health."

RELATED: Parents push Arizona lawmakers to require more recess for students

The law does not mandate a set amount of time for recess and leaves it up to schools to decide how they will implement the two recess periods in their bell schedules. Schools will not be required to extend their school days, and physical education classes can count toward the daily recess requirement.

For years, Arizona parents have urged state lawmakers to step in to provide protections to recess time.


Few schools appear to offer at least two recess periods for unstructured playtime, parents and advocates said. Some parents have said that their children get no recess. 

They said the trend was troubling, and stemmed from high-stakes federal and state accountability mandates that placed pressure-cooker expectations on schools to perform well on standardized exams.

The Arizona School Boards Association and Arizona School Administrators had opposed the legislation, saying it placed yet another unfunded mandate on local schools.


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