ASD pilot program promotes longer recess and lunch times
ASD60, a parent-led group promoting wellness and fitness, approached the Anchorage School Board asking them to take a look at implementing longer recess and lunch times. The school board agreed to take a deeper dive into the topic.
"Parents would report students sometimes come home with half their lunch box still not eaten," said Anchorage School District Deputy Superintendent Mark Stock. "Parents would report 'my kid's hangry,' you know, 'he's hungry and mad when he comes home.'"
In September, ASD started a new pilot program involving 21 of the district's 102 schools. To be a part of the program, schools must have a breakfast program that guarantees kids get 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to eat, a 30-minute lunch with 20 minutes to eat, and 30 minutes of recess time.
Stock said the new parameters can be a challenge.
Schools in Alaska are currently required by state statute to provide 90% of a child's daily physical activity. This needs to be accomplished in the six-and-a-half hours the schools have them.
Gladys Wood Elementary School is in the pilot program and principal Nick Straw likes what he sees so far.
"I also believe strongly that students need more opportunities to play," Straw said. "They need more opportunities to be outside."
So, what classes are schools cutting to make more time for recess and lunch?
Straw says at his elementary school, there's a little less time for subjects like social studies and science. He says cutting a few minutes here and there has made a big impact.
"Often cases its only 10 minutes, maybe 15, depending on the class and the amount of time they have," Straw said. "So, It's been a very positive opportunity for them to have."
Straw says his school has nearly doubled its recess time. He says it has been a positive opportunity for the kids to get out, get fresh air and move around.
Recess, he says, is one of the only times of day where things are a little less structured in the school and students have to work through conflicts with each other in ways they might not otherwise have.
Straw also says having teachers spend more time with students during lunch provides more opportunity for connection, which is a game-changer.
The school district will take all the data gathered from the pilot program and discuss what was found at the end of the school year. It could also mean a change in policy.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE NEWS FROM KTVA: