ATLANTA - A state lawmaker wants to make sure elementary students can get up and move during their school day.
Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D- Stockbridge, presented his "recess bill" to the Senate Education and Youth Committee Monday afternoon. House bill 273 would require that schools give students from kindergarten through fifth grade an average of at least 30 minutes of recess per day, preferably outdoors.
"We're trying to at least give them a chance to get out there and exercise," Rep. Douglas told committee members.
As a former University of Georgia and NFL football player, Douglas stressed that it is key for children to learn the value of exercise early on in their lives.
"I'm just trying to get the kids moving," said Douglas, who pointed to the high rates of premature diabetes and childhood obesity in the United States.
HB 273 would also mandate that educators cannot take recess time away as a punishment for students. Rep. Douglas said he has heard from multiple students who say that one or two children who act out can get recess taken away from an entire class and he believes that the students with behavior issues usually need recess the most.
While the bill has earned the support of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and others, it will likely not get through the Senate committee process unscathed.
Senator Lindsey Tippins, R- Marietta, expressed concerns about instituting a recess "mandate" that could put schools in the difficult position of having to catch up on time.
"I don't want it to be a clear cut mandate that it's going to be a true average that if you miss 30 minutes today, you're going to have to make it up by the end of the week," Sen. Tippins explained.
Tippins and Douglas plan to work together to come up with language that everyone can accept.
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