COPPERAS COVE — Meal time is as important as play time in school, according to Texas law, and some Cove parents want to ensure their kids are getting that downtime between classes.
The first Student Health Advisory Council meeting of the year took place in Copperas Cove Independent School District on Monday with discussion of school meal nutrition and physical fitness opportunities for students.
In June, Texas legislators passed House Bill 1018 adding to the duties of each Student Health Advisory Council to establish a physical activity and fitness planning subcommittee to discuss issues related to student physical activity and fitness and make recommendations to the local school board.
Emilio Olivares, Cove ISD’s coordinator of support services, said the legal policy requires kindergarten through fifth-grade students to receive 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, which is covered by recess.
Sixth- through eighth-grade students also must get 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, which is covered through a physical education class.
Olivares said in lieu of 30 minutes daily, the students must receive 135 minutes of vigorous exercise over a two-week period.
Parents questioning Cove ISD’s recess policy are requesting that recess not be taken away as a consequence for bad behavior because the students are then not meeting the state requirement.
Parent Sabrina Grasso, whose daughter attends Clements/Parsons Elementary School, said recess is also a good outlet to release energy and stress for the students.
“I have a child with disabilities and I would prefer they not take her recess away. I am not saying not to discipline her. But kids need their recess,” Grasso said.
Other parents spoke up to say that at the junior high level, students are offered 30 minutes for lunch and recess. Many are not eating their lunches so they can have more time outside.
Jarod Barton, coordinator of Support Services Public Education Information Management Systems, said exercise helps boost test scores in preparation for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exam.
Both Barton and Olivares agreed to take an inventory at all elementary and junior high schools to verify recess and physical education schedules, discuss with administrators about not taking away recess as punishment, and how many minutes of exercise are required for students each day.
The next Cove ISD Student Health Advisory Council meeting is at 6 p.m. Feb. 27.
The next Student Health Advisory Council meeting for Killeen ISD is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 12.
Meetings are held in each school district’s administration building.