Schools try to implement ban on use of 'no recess'

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Although Springfield public schools have banned the use of withholding students from recess as a form of punishment, officials say the age-old practice continues in some schools.

The district established the ban on 'no recess' as part of its wellness program a few years ago because recess keeps children active. Associate Superintendent Ben Hackenwerth, who oversees elementary schools where the 'no recess' practice has long been prevalent, stressed the need to end the punishment during a school official study session Tuesday.

"Play is important. There is so much to be learned at play," he said. "In addition we want our kids to be active and outside."

Serious infractions, such as fighting, can lead to disciplinary actions that start with calls home and visits with the principal and can include suspensions. Taking away gym class or recess has long been used, primarily by teachers, for lesser infractions.

Hackenwerth and Jean Grabeel, manager of health services, said they have told principals about the ban on withholding students from recess as punishment but the practice has been around so long, the change is taking time, The Springfield News-Leader reported (

Nicole Kimbrough, principal of Holland elementary school, said the 'no recess' practice is commonly expected, and that changing it involves "an ongoing conversation we're having within our schools."

She also said she will occasionally get a call from a parent asking that their child lose recess privileges for poor behavior at home.

"Parents still aren't understanding that we don't want to restrict recess," she said.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader,

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