Pinellas reassures recess -- in writing
Many today are mourning the death of a bill in the Florida Senate that would mandate daily recess to elementary schools (http://bit.ly/24mubmd), but those in Pinellas can rest assured.
Shana Rafalski, the Pinellas County school district's new executive director for elementary education, sent the following "directive" to elementary principals countywide on Thursday that will expect schools to offer physical education every day, either through physical education, recess, or both at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Rather than face a district-wide mandate, each school will determine its own scheduling.
Enactment of Physical Activity on a Daily Basis
Pinellas County Schools is committed to supporting the healthy development of students both physically and academically. Through local decision-making for appropriate implementation at each site, beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, all elementary schools will offer physical activity everyday through physical education, recess or both. This can be accomplished in many ways through flexible scheduling models, taking into consideration the varying needs of individual schools. Research supports the mental and physical benefits of being able to participate in periodic physical breaks during the school day and our board acknowledges the important connection between physical activity and academic achievement.
In her email. Rafalski explained the district had received several requests for the language on the issue, including one from Senate Education chairman John Legg, who has decided not to hear the bill because it didn't "merit a Tallahassee solution."
"Pinellas County has been proactive in the approach to setting an expectation for ensuring that all our students engage in physical activity daily and has been held up as a model for other districts around the state," she wrote.
The directive solidifies superintendent Mike Grego surprising announcement last month when he said elementary schools will be expected to provide 20 minutes of recess at least on days without physical education beginning in August, just as local "recess moms" were driving back home from Tallahasssee after testifying before lawmakers.