Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Howie Hickey, Erin Kaye

Committee Member/Reader

Gallagher, Kaitlin M.


Arkansas passed Act 641 in April of 2019, which extended mandated recess time from 20 to 40 minutes per day in Arkansas public schools, and included recess as instructional time, making Arkansas the state with the most required recess time (Arkansas Unstructured Social Time in Schools Act, 2019). There is a standard consensus among developed countries that children and youth should accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day (Parrish et al., 2013). Unfortunately, only about half of youth meet the current and evidence-based guidelines (Kohl & Cook, 2013). The opportunity for children and adolescents to be active has declined over time, and is likely due to a combination of factors including school policies, parental rules and environmental factors, such as a reduction in active travel, such as walking to and from school (Parrish et al., 2013).

Schools across the country play a huge role in the amount of physical activity their students get. They can provide many opportunities for young people to engage in physical activity and motivate children to stay active. In 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published research-based guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. These guidelines outline a comprehensive approach to promoting physical activity through schools with quality, daily physical education; classroom health education that complements physical education by giving students the knowledge and self- management skills needed to maintain a physically active lifestyle; daily recess periods for elementary school students; and extracurricular physical activity programs, including intramural activities, physical activity clubs, and interscholastic sports. Even if a few of these initiatives were implemented in schools across the country, it could drastically impact the lives of students for the better (Burgeson et al., 2001).

Physical activity is extremely important and is a key determinant of health outcomes across the life span. A lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression, and other diseases (Kohl & Cook, 2013). In regards to cognitive and intellectual benefits, recess has been correlated with increased physical activity, improved memory and attention, reduction of disruptive behaviors in the classroom, and social and emotional development in students (Carlson et al., 2015; CDC, 2020a; Hillman et al., 2014). Additionally, recess provides an opportunity for students to practice appropriate social skills while engaging with their peers. Researchers agree that children learn valuable skills, such as negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem solving, coping, perseverance, and self-control through play (Murray & Ramstetter, 2012).

The purpose of this research study was to gain insight and qualitative data from school nurses in order to see how the increase in recess time in the state of Arkansas has impacted recess-related injuries. Their feedback helped highlight any areas of recess that needed to be altered in order to keep the kids safe and healthy. This qualitative data was collected via interviews using predetermined open-ended questions over Zoom. I hypothesized that the increase in recess time was very beneficial to elementary school students in many different aspects, cognitively and physically, but it also created a longer time period for potential injuries to occur.


Northwest Arkansas, School Nurses, Recess-Related Injuries, Arkansas School Nurses, Act 641, COVID-19 and Recess