Recess in the 21st Century post-COVID world

Catherine L. Ramstetter, Ed Baines, Charlene Woodham Brickman, Brendon Hyndman, Olga Jarrett, Rebecca London, William Massey, Lauren McNamara, Robert Murray, Debbie Rhea

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The COVID-19 pandemic created a series of ongoing stressors for children. Given the constant disruption and social isolation, it is unsurprising to learn that children’s mental health has suffered. As social connection is tightly entwined with children’s mental health, supporting school-based spaces for quality social interactions and play is an important post-pandemic recovery strategy.

The unstructured school recess space affords such an opportunity, offering the potential to positively shape learning, social connection, emotional well-being, and physical health. For recess to deliver its full potential, to be an inclusive, equitable space that alleviates stress and promotes holistic child development, we must take action. The purpose of our commentary is to elevate school recess in the global conversation of schooling, specifically to highlight recess for
critical reflection, consolidating contemporary research and providing recommendations for an urgently needed way forward.

We align our commentary with the guidelines provided in the UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child General Comment 17 (2013). Given that most children spend a considerable portion of their developmental years in the school community, recess provides a unique space in which children and adolescents have an opportunity to exercise these fundamental rights.

Education should reclaim its purpose to teach skills, provide intellectual exploration and foster emotional development. Recess must be included in every educational decision, considering and promoting what is in the best interest of the child: the right to rest, leisure and play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-944
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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