Parents upset over recess policy at Indiana elementary school

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One week into the new school year, parents at one elementary school in central Indiana are already upset about what is and what's not allowed on the playground.

Parents at Fayette Central Elementary, located just outside of Connersville, are angry about recess.

If you flip through Webster's dictionary, you'll find recess defined as "a suspension of business or procedure often for rest or relaxation."

At Fayette Central Elementary, parents say it's defined differently.

"To play kickball only," said parent Audrey Dice.

That's recess each day for two weeks, when administrators then choose another activity.

"If you don't want to participate, you were sent to the office. There is not an option to sit out," Dice said.

Hearing her own child and others complain, Audrey Dice decided to take action and take to the internet, launching an online petition.

"We've been lucky that we are getting a huge response," Dice said.

More than 400 have signed it in less than 24 hours, with comments coming from as far as Florida and Alabama, with one woman in Muncie writing that a structured recess "is not a way to allow their personalities and creativity to develop."

"We appreciate the support says let our kids be themselves for 20 minutes," Dice said.

School leaders say there have been several issues in the past, resulting in this year's new structured recess.

"We could help kids understand better how to go along with others and make sure everybody was involved in the activities and that we teach kids the appropriate ways to handle free time," said Fayette County School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Russell Hodges.

It's also designed to get kids moving.

"We are all concerned about students health and physical activity so this is an opportunity for a structured process to make sure the kids are actively engaged," Dr. Hodges explained.

But parents like Dice hope the page will turn back to the old days.

"I would define recess as a 20-minute break that children get to take from their school work to play with other children to play by themselves to be able to express themselves and whatever way they need to to get out of energy," Dice said.

Administrators say a note will be sent home to parents this week explaining the new policy that they hope to have more of a conversation down the road.

After the two weeks of kickball wraps up, leaders say students will have structured time with the playground equipment.