FCPS Plans Changes to Recess Under New Virginia Law

FCPS News Release

As a result of a new Virginia law that goes into effect July 1, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is providing new guidelines for elementary physical education and recess to accommodate at least 30 minutes of recess per day for elementary school students, beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

The new law, passed by the General Assembly in March and signed by Governor Ralph Northam in April, enables school districts to expand available time for unstructured recreation in elementary schools “intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours.” Virginia Delegate Karrie Delaney and State Senator Chap Petersen sponsored identical bills during the General Assembly’s 2018 session.

“We are pleased to provide this opportunity for our students to have additional recess time,” said Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “The mental and physical health of our students is a key component of our strategic plan and we are committed to balancing rigorous academic focus and overall well-being of our students.”    

FCPS Regulation 3218 will be updated to reflect the updated 30 minute per day minimum, doubling the amount of supervised recess for all elementary students that may be provided in two segments. The regulation already included the direction that “recess should provide for student-selected structured and unstructured play through a variety of activities.” FCPS Policy 2100 also currently states that “recess should not be withheld to manage behavior or used for instructional activities such as completing classwork, homework, or remediation activities.”  

So that school staff members are prepared to implement the new recess requirements, the FCPS Instructional Services Department has made adjustments in instructional time recommendations and support for master scheduling, including sample schedules that include two recesses. Resources will be created to share recess best practices, ensuring that the additional recess time promotes positive social and emotional development for students. 


For more information, contact the FCPS Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200.