Last spring I was very encouraged by to hear that many schools were going back to the “open campus” model that in effect lengthened the day to 6.5 hours and allowed more time for lunch and recess. The open campus model also allows the youngest grades to have more recess than the upper grades, a design that is developmentally appropriate in a k-8 school. When I heard of the current proposal to extend the school day by 105 minutes I was shocked. This will create a day that is 7.5 hours long, 13% longer than the national average of 6.64 hrs. Adding 60 minutes to the current CPS day would be more appropriate and inline with national and area averages.
A 7.5 hour day is not only very long, the proposal as stated on the CPS website does not include adequate time for recess, especially for the primary grades. As it is stated on the CPS website, students will only receive 45 minutes for lunch and recess. While this might work for middle school aged kids (grades 6-8), youngest kids need much more time for play.
In July 2010, the CDC published a report outlining the research on the impact of recess PE on academic outcomes. This report states that the bulk of the research shows that PE and recess have a positive or neutral affect on academic outcomes EVEN if instruction time is taken away and replaced with PE and/or recess.