Middletown parents demand school administrators reinstate single 25-minute recess


MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Parents gathered outside the school administration building in Middletown Wednesday for what they are calling a “reinstate recess” protest.

“Mask breaks are not recess,” could be heard from a small but determined group of parents gathered outside the school administration building. 

They are not happy with a change to the elementary school recess policy which replaces a single 25-minute recess with two 10-minute recesses.

“I just don’t think it serves enough time for our children to be able to be outside and have that full social time, that break time so then…their brains are rested so they can go back and focus in the classroom,” said Middletown parent Amy Webster who has two children in elementary school and one in the middle school.

She organized Wednesday’s peaceful protest.

The school department says the change was made in an effort to keep each cohort or classroom separate from others. 

“What that means is that teacher A’s class at a given point for their 10-minute recess break will have access to the playscape while teacher B who’s out at the same time will have access to the recess equipment,” said Jessie Lavorgna, Director of Communications for Middletown Schools

During the second 10-minute recess the cohorts switch to the other activity.

“Ten minutes can go so fast for children,” parents told Lavorgna.

They understand the idea behind the cohorts but say the recess could be structured differently to keep kids safe.

The School Department has created a crowdsourcing platform where parents can make their own suggestions about recess. Such as having one 25-minute recess where on one day that cohort is only on the playground and the next day it is only on the playscape so no cohorts commingle but have longer time outside.

The results of the crowdsourcing effort are expected to be discussed at the next board of education meeting scheduled for Oct. 12, 2021.

Webster doubts their suggestions will be considered and doubts the reason for this recess change.

“They are looking at test scores. They’re looking at the district and wanting to keep their numbers up and I feel like that’s what’s going on here,” said Webster. “I think it’s more than just trying to keep our kids safe in COVID.”

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