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A recent study found that, between 2017 and 2020, 19.5% of children and adolescents aged 2–19, roughly 14.7 million youth, were obese. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study discovered that since the COVID-19 pandemic, the average body mass index (BMI) of children and adolescents has doubled. States legislatures across the U.S. are considering addressing this issue by requiring a certain amount of recess time for elementary and middle school-aged students.

Maine: 20 Minutes of Outdoor Recess

On January 17, 2023, legislation in Maine was introduced that would require schools to provide middle school-aged students (grades 6–8) at least 20 minutes of outdoor recess time no fewer than three times a week. The bill would stress that recess time should be relaxed and unstructured.

Oklahoma: Require Minimum Amount of Recess Time

On February 6, 2023, State Representative Jacob Rosecrants (D) proposed House Bill 1081 to the Oklahoma House. The bill would require schools to provide students with a minimum amount of daily recess time. This bill would call for a minimum outdoor recess time and require that schools hold all recesses outside when the weather permits. It would also call for the limited use of electronic devices at recess. It would encourage students to lead games and activities rather than teachers. The bill has not progressed since it was first read on February 6, 2023.

South Carolina: Mandate Recess Time

State Representative Patrick B. Haddon (R) introduced House Bill 3731 on January 18, 2023. The bill would mandate daily recess for students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The bill would require K–5 recesses to total 45–60 minutes, while 6–8 recesses must total between 30–45 minutes. The bill was referred to the Education & Public Works Committee on January 18, 2023.

Washington: Minimum Daily Recess

On January 23, 2023, State Representative Sam Low (R) introduced Washington House Bill 1504 regarding minimum times for daily recess. The bill would specifically address how Covid has impacted students’ physical, social, and mental health and harmed students’ learning and behavior. The bill would require a minimum recess time of 30–45 minutes, depending on the school day’s length. The bill would also require outdoor recess and limit electronic devices’ involvement in student recess time. The House Education Committee held a public hearing considering the bill on February 7, 2023.

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