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Middletown parents rally over district's decision to cut down recess time for elementary school students

School officials said they understand why parents are frustrated, but the decision was made to safely space children apart because of COVID-19.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Parents of elementary school students in Middletown are fired up over the district's decision to cut down their kids' recess time. 

They rallied outside of the administration building for six hours on Wednesday. 

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"If they’re going to be back at school five days a week, let’s give them that sense of normalcy," Amy Webster, of Middletown said. 

Webster has two children who attend Farm Hill Elementary School. 

She joined other upset mothers who held up signs that read, "reinstate recess" and "let them play" and said two 10-minute increments of recess is not enough for children their age. 

"It helps with their cognitive development," Webster added. "Their social and emotional development and their physical development and having that break time will get them back in the classroom even more focused." 

School officials told FOX61 that they understood parents' frustration, but need them to know the decision was made to safely space children apart because of COVID-19.

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"They’re absolutely getting more time of physical activity - they’re getting it in Phys Ed class," Jessie Lavorgna of Middletown Public Schools said. "I’ve witnessed recess in some of our schools this year. Kids seem happy! It doesn’t necessarily seem like it’s a bad practice for kids."

Lavorgna said children are not deprived of learning to think on their own. 

"These are practices also in place in our classrooms, so kids are being able to be creative and be problem solvers together," Lavorgna added. 

Before the pandemic, recess time lasted 25 minutes.  Webster said her child now has to make up that time elsewhere. 

"From the time he wakes up to the time we have to put him to bed, he’s on the go go go," Webster added. "We let him play through sports to get that energy out." 

The Board of Education will hold another meeting on October 12 at 6:30 p.m. through Zoom. Parents are encouraged to attend to continue the discussion.

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Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. 

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