More recess for Virginia students may soon be reality after Woodbridge mother's effort

- A Northern Virginia mother is one step closer to extending recess across the state. Currently, some schools have as little as a 15-minute recess for young students -- the bare minimum required by law. However, that could all change soon thanks to the mother’s push for change.

Last year, FOX 5 introduced you to Barbara Larrimore. She has three children – two of them attend Lake Ridge Elementary School in Prince William County. Students at this Virginia school get 15 minutes of recess daily and one to two physical education classes weekly.

For Larrimore, this is not enough and after a yearlong social media campaign, Virginia lawmakers apparently agree.

“The Senate bill has been approved on the Senate floor and it is on to the House,” said Larrimore. “The House bill has just today passed the Education Committee and is on to the General Assembly floor.”

Larrimore created the More Recess for Virginians campaign in Jan. 2017. She wants recess to count as instructional time.

“We would like to make sure that there is time for recess during the school day and make sure that it doesn't take away from the other arts and music and specials that we really like,” she said.

Right now, recess is in the same category as lunch – both are excluded from instructional time.

Larrimore's social media blitz started last year and her hashtag #RecessMom attracted other mothers with similar concerns, including Catherine Stewart from Fairfax County.

“Our kids need at least two recesses – young kids – at least two 15 or 20-minute recesses,” Stewart said. “Some studies have actually done four 15-minute recesses for young kids and it improved the academic performance for those students.”

“Fifteen minutes in a 6-hour and 45-minute day in Prince William County is not enough,” said Larrimore. “It doesn’t make any sense for the way that children are for their human development. It doesn’t help them learn if they don’t have traditional breaks. The human attention span is 45 minutes and you have to take that down depending on the age of the kid.”

Critics are concerned incorporating recess into academic time would take away instructional minutes from English, math, social studies and science.

Lawmakers will vote on the bill next Tuesday.

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