Kids Need Recess

States of Recess

States With Recess Legislation Pending

States that have pending legislation about school recess in 2023


HB-5081 recently introduced in the Michigan House that would ensure K-5 students people throughout Michigan have access to 30 minutes recess as part of their school day.


Minnesota will be refining the definition of recess retention and stipulate circumstances which are acceptable for withholding recess.
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House Bill 1081 requires 30 minutes of daily recess for students, in addition to 60 minutes weekly physical education. Recess should happen outside the classroom, weather permitting.

New York

SB6256 will require schools to give a reasonable time of no less than thirty minutes for each full day pupil attending kindergarten through grade five to participate in recess; or schedule two reasonable times of no less than fifteen minutes each for each full day pupil attending kindergarten through grade five to participate in recess.
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States With Recess Laws


UPDATE: SB291 was signed into law 10/13 by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Starting 2024-2025 school year, all public school children will be given 30 minutes of recess daily.
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Recess just passed recess legislation, HB 121. It requires at least one recess 15 minutes in length for students daily and has been signed by the governor, becoming Act. 219, effective starting 8/1/2023. 
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Washington has passed SB5257, and the law was signed by the governor on 5/4/2023. This law requires 30 minutes of daily recess for student starting with school year 2024-25, effective 7/23/2023.
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On 5/8/2023, Georgia governor has signed HB 1283 into law that required elementary schools grades K-5 to schedule daily recess.

The law recommends but does not require recess to be 30 minutes or more.
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On 8/13/2021, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB 0654, also known as "Right to Play Every Day" law into law requires all public schools in the state to provide 30 minutes of daily unstructured free time to K-5 students starting 8/13/21. The law ensures recess can’t be taken away from students as a disciplinary measure, and a physical education class won’t fulfill the requirement.
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Elementary school students in Arkansas will get at least 40 minutes a day of recess under legislation approved earlier this year by the General Assembly. Act 641 of 2019 amends state law concerning the school day. It requires at least 40 minutes of each day be used for recess, which will be outdoors when the weather allows.
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New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on 8/10/2018 signed a law (S847) that requires elementary schools to hold at least a 20-minute recess period each day and restricts the reasons schools can take away recess from an individual student. The law in in effect starting 2019-2020 school year.


On April 4, 2018, SB1083 was signed into law and requires all schools that have grades K-5 to provide two recess periods per school day. A school district or charter school is not required to extend the school day to meet the requirements. AZ also passed SB 1008, which allowed lunch and recess to be counted as instructional time.
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In 2017, Florida signed into law requiring schools provide students with daily recess no less than 20 minutes. This doesn't require charter schools to comply, and it does not require outdoor play.
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Rhode Island

Rhode Island

On 6/23/2016, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed legislation mandating at least 20 consecutive minutes of free play for every kid, every day in elementary schools. The law also allows school systems to count recess as instructional time so they do not have to extend the school day to meet the requirement.
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Connecticut passed the statute in July 2012 that requires schools to provide a 20-minute supervised recess for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade students. Recess is encouraged for seventh and eighth graders but not required.
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SB291 (2009) requires 150 minutes of moderate physical activity for each 5-day school week of elementary school. SB291, signed into law 7/31/2009 by the Governor, also requires a minimum of one 20-minute recess period per day, which may be incorporated into the lunch period.
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Virginia (2006) state board rule required 20 minutes of recess daily and 2018 legislation allows schools to spend about 50 minutes of their instructional day in recess/downtime. In 2018, Virginia passed laws expanding time for recess to 15% of instructional time. Virginia requires at least 30 min daily of physical activity and recess is required, though minutes of recess is up to the school.

States With Physical Activity Laws, but no Recess Laws

Due to the growing obesity problem that was starting to be recognized in the early 2000s, many states have physical activity laws or recommendations for schools.


AS14.30.360 states that school districts shall establish guidelines to provide opportunities for 54 minutes of physical activity each full school day for students in grades K-8.


Since 2011, Colorado required 600 minutes of physical activity per month that may include recess, but have no laws specifying recess. 


The state does not require elementary schools to provide daily recess, or prohibit withholding of recess but it requires at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity for K-8 students.

West Virginia

West Virginia passed SB 751 (2006) requiring at least 30 min daily of physical activity in the form of physical education for elementary school.


Indiana started to require schools to provide physical activity of unspecified time during the school day.


For elementary school students, a minimum of one hundred thirty (130) minutes of physical activity per week. For middle and high school students, a minimum of ninety (90) minutes of physical activity per week.

South Carolina

In 2005, South Carolina passed Students Health and Fitness Act, which required schools to provide a minimum of 150 minutes a week of physical education and physical activity for grades K-5. 90 minutes a week of physical education is required; there are no requirements for recess.


Texas requires that elementary and middle school students have daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes, but has no requirement or laws around recess.


In 2007, Oklahoma required schools to provide 60 minutes a week of physical activity for kids, but there has been no recess legislation that has passed yet.


In 2006, Iowa passed SB 1186 required schools to provide 60 minutes a week of physical activity for kids, which may include physical education, recess, classroom activity, or wellness education, but no recess legislation has passed yet.

States with No Recess or Physical Activity Laws

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusettes
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming