LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — This winter’s weather has caused many D.C.-area school systems to cancel classes far more often than they usually have to.
Even before a brutal blast of snow blanketed the area on Feb. 13, D.C. public schools and more than half of Maryland’s 24 school districts had reached or exceeded their allocated snow days. Some Northern Virginia districts were in a similar situation.
The Prince William County Board of Education today announced several steps they have taken to address the problem.
One of them is to shorten all elementary school recess periods to 10 minutes per day beginning Feb. 24. Recess is normally 15 minutes long.
Despite the move, “Teachers will be free to include supervised wellness and physical education activities in the daily routine,” officials stated in an announcement on the school system website.
Officials also made March 31, which was previously a “teacher professional development workday” a full instructional day for students, made June 17 a full instructional day and added a half day for elementary students on June 18.
“The changes probably won’t be popular, but these measures were chosen to have the least undesirable impact on students, staff and families,” the statement reads. “In previous years, minutes added to the school day and days taken from vacations proved extremely inconvenient for many.”
The changes, specifically the recess reduction, were indeed unpopular with some people who commented on the school system’s Facebook page announcement.
“Apparently none of the school board members have read the studies linking physical activity and adequate outside recess time to learning in the classroom,” one woman wrote.
“Taking away recess time is a horrible idea,” another complained. “What happened to extending the school day or using the day after Easter? Children need time to play and they already do not get enough of that during the normal school day.”
Multiple people asked why President’s Day was not made a full instructional day, instead.
A Change.org petition to reinstate recess had gotten more than 1,000 signatures by 4 p.m. Thursday.
Still others wrote on Facebook that they are OK with the changes.
“Since we have 80,000 plus students in PWC and only a few hundred negative comments, maybe the majority of us think this is manageable,” one woman reasoned.