Before dozens of parents and students showed up at a school board meeting Wednesday to protest what they say is too little time in the lunchroom and on the playground at Seattle schools, district officials had already responded, issuing a news release saying that a wellness task force is looking into their concerns.
The task force is researching nutrition, physical education and activity, and “passing time” on the way to and from lunch and recess, the district said, and will recommend potential changes on nutrition to the superintendent in February.
School leaders report providing at least 20 minutes for lunch, the district said, which is longer than what the parents report.
At the board meeting, parents and students arrived with signs saying “Let us play” and “Recess is instruction.”
Dayna Provitt, parent of a first- and third-grader and one of the event’s organizers, said an informal study done by a parent group shows inconsistency in recess and lunch time among many Seattle schools.
“Recess is instructional time,” Provitt said. “It prepares children to learn.”
The parents’ study — conducted by calling schools and collecting parent and staff observations — suggests some schools provide as little as 10 minutes for students to eat lunch. After waiting in line for a hot lunch and otherwise settling into the cafeteria, some students have too little time to eat, they say.
And while kids may stay after lunch is over to finish eating, that means they miss out on some recess, which parents say is important, too.
Related: Seattle schools need formal policy on recess time (guest opinion)