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Montour School District parents raise concerns over lack of recess time for students

Montour School District parents raise concerns over lack of recess time for students
Montour School District parents raise concerns over lack of recess time for students 03:01

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - School is back in session, and parents are getting settled into new routines. For some in the Montour School District, it came with a change they didn't expect in their kids' schedules when it came to recess.

Eight-year-old Grayson Karzenowski kicked a soccer ball outside his Robinson Township home Thursday evening to get some fresh air after school. His mom, Abby, said during the day he doesn't get much of a break.

"He said that by the time they finish lunch and they get outside, they get a chance to run around for about 10 minutes before they have to come back in," Abby said.

Grayson started third grade at Montour Elementary at the end of August, but on his schedule, there's no period designated for recess.

Amanda Lawrence has a son in Grayson's class,

"My son was like, 'Our recess is so short this year, we really don't even have recess,'" Lawrence said.

Both found confirmation through other parents on Facebook and learned, unlike younger students, that for third and fourth graders, recess consists of leftover time set aside for lunch.

Abby said the 40-minute lunch period doesn't only include eating, but also waiting in line for food, all students at a table finishing their meal, cleaning up, and getting supplies for their next lesson.

"These kids just want to go play, and they're not eating; they're just rushing through everything so they can get outside," Lawrence said.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics say recess is a necessary break from the physical and mental demands of the school day.

Superintendent Dr. Christopher Stone provided KDKA with the following statement:

They get 20 minutes per day. This has been the consistent practice within the school district for many years. This is aligned with the recommendations of experts in the field. There may be children every now and again who elect to eat slowly and spend time with friends indoors. As per the principal, every child has plenty of time to finish a meal and spend 20 minutes outdoors. 

"I believe that that's what they hope happens. I don't think that's actually the reality," Abby said.

The parents said at a PTA meeting the other night, the principal shared this isn't the first time these concerns have popped up.

However, this year, parents are determined to make a change, creating a petition with nearly 200 signatures to share with the district, with information gathered from other districts, like a schedule for a third grader at North Allegheny, where they have set periods for recess.

"They need that time to run off some steam and be able to go back and ready to learn," Lawrence said.

"They need to have that ability to go out and play and run socially. It helps them grow, [and] it helps them grow cognitively," Abby said.

According to the National Association of State Boards of Education, nine states have laws mandating recess in school. One is currently being proposed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, but in past years, similar proposals failed to move forward.

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