CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Two Clarksville mothers are encouraged after a meeting with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System about an effort to expand recess times. 

For Morgan Garner, it’s something she’s wanted to see since her now-fourth-grader started kindergarten.  

“I started asking her questions like, ‘Did you have recess today? Did you have PE today?’ and a lot of times, the answer was no because Tennessee is either too rainy, too cold, too hot; there’s all these rules about when they can go outside,” Garner said.  

Garner and Rachel Bush started a petition to expand recess at elementary schools across the district. The petition now has 750 signatures.

On Wednesday, they met with district administrators after a school board meeting that drew several dozen parents.  

“It’s proven to help reading; it’s proven to help math; it’s proven to help social development and communication skills, which employers are looking for,” Bush said.  

With current district recess times, Bush said we may be asking students to focus for too long.

“And if you look at how much break time they have, it’s only 15 to 20 minutes, but if you look at the Tennessee labor law, they give 30 minutes to every six hours of work,” Bush added.  

CMCSS told News 2 students do get the state-required 130 minutes of physical activity per week, and adding more recess would mean taking time away from other areas. Nonetheless, they are open to exploring “challenges and opportunities” and are currently looking at adding more recreational and outdoor learning. 

On Wednesday, Bush and Garner said the district was open to finding solutions and look forward to scheduling another roundtable meeting.  

“We’ve seen firsthand that our school board really loves these kids and now it’s time to pull up our sleeves and actually make some change and do something, because I think they’re listening,” Garner said.

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In part, a district spokesperson shared the following points with News 2:

  • When possible, teachers and schools do add extra recess time on a class-by-class, school-by-school basis, and in the warmer months, we generally observe an increase in extra recess, field days, fun runs, kickball tournaments, etc. at schools.
  • While not specific to recess, CMCSS is continuing to explore opportunities to provide more access for students to learn outside in the natural environment. From supporting outdoor gardens to reallocating grant funds to provide outdoor classroom furniture at schools, CMCSS is making efforts to increase outdoor recreation and environmental learning.
  • CMCSS elementary schools offer a variety of after-school and before-school clubs and activities across the District, such as running club, archery, physical education enrichment clubs, etc., and CMCSS partners with the YMCA Fun Company at several elementary schools for before and after-school programs. 
  • Also, it is noteworthy to mention that CMCSS has a Continuous Improvement Team working in collaboration with the Clarksville-Montgomery County Education Foundation to increase adaptive and inclusive playground equipment at CMCSS elementary schools.