Elementary school students in New York would receive at least 30 minutes of daily recess under a measure proposed Wednesday by state Sen. James Skoufis. 

The proposal would also bar schools from withholding recess time from students facing disciplinary action. 

Skoufis pointed to research showing children with unstructured playtime improve both their health and academic achievement. A study from the World Health Organization found 81% of elementary school-age kids do not get enough physical activity. 

Only 10 states mandate regular recess periods. 

“Every student, regardless of their school’s location or resources, deserves access to regular outdoor playtime,” Skoufis said. “Recess breeds discovery, improved social skills, and physical and mental health benefits, not to mention strides in the classroom. This kind of unstructured play is critical for early childhood development, and we must do all we can to support New York’s youngest residents as they grow.”

More broadly, schools across the country have been grappling with the disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students have struggled with remote classroom instruction, leading to a push to help kids catch up from the loss of learning. 

At the same time, some officials in schools have pointed to a rise in disciplinary trouble after in-classroom instruction returned. 

New York has sought to expand childhood development in other ways, including an expansion of universal pre-Kindergarten beyond New York City.