Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Recess Requirements under Act 641 of 2019

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Legal Services
Regulatory Authority
Act 641 of 2019
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Technology Coordinators; Test Coordinators; General Business Managers; Teachers; Gifted & Talented Coordinators; Curriculum Coordinators; Bookkeepers; School Counselors; Techstart Coordinators or Contact Name; Equity Coordinators (Disability/Race/Gender/National Origin); Child Nutrition Directors/Managers; Data Stewards (SIS; eSchool; eFinance; TRIAND); District Coordinators (ALE; Homeless; ESOL; SDFS & Foster); Parent Involvement Coordinators/Facilitators

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Memo Text

Act 641 of 2019 increases the required minutes for recess/unstructured play to 40 minutes per day for elementary students and defines recess as part of the instructional day. Supervision of recess is no longer considered a non-instructional duty and does not count towards the maximum of 60 minutes per week for classroom teachers for non-instructional duties. The law does not require every teacher to be on recess duty; therefore, the appropriate student-staff ratio for the supervision of recess is up to the local school district.  School districts may use course code 999020 to indicate recess as part of the instructional day.  A public school principal may use discretion to adjust the recess time required due to special circumstances or programs that interrupt a regular school day.


Elementary schools that include 5th and 6th grade fall under Act 641 as long as they are utilizing an elementary model defined as: the educational model consistent with instructional grouping and scheduling used in grades kindergarten through four, but may include grades five through six. If the school is functioning as a middle school, the 40 minutes per day for recess is not required. However, all policies for middle school apply to those grades including total teaching load. 


The recess requirements are in addition to the physical education requirements of Ark. Code Ann. 6-16-132 and all grades have to meet the physical education requirements.


ADE will revise existing Nutrition and Physical Activity Rules to reflect this legislation.


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