MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) - Middletown parents are urging the district for a normal recess.

Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition after the district decided to give students two separate ten minute breaks in lieu of a twenty-five minute recess.

The school district says this is adequate under state law, which requires at least twenty minutes total of free time a day, but parents say it’s not enough.

"They have to blow off a certain amount of steam a day. You can’t expect a child ranging from five to nine to sit in a seat with a ten minute break all day," Bill Perkins of Middletown tells us.

The district says the children will also have opportunities to remove their masks at lunch, during specials, and at their teacher’s discretion.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Michael Conner states the change is due to COVID, falling in line with the cohorting strategy.

"I don’t think ten minutes is an adequate amount of time. That’s when you meet with your peers. That’s when you have all your social things going on," Perkins noted.

Bill is one of many parents who spoke against the policy during a school board meeting tonight.

Parents say students need mask breaks in addition to their normal twenty-five minute recess.

"I think taking away one of these critical vestiges of childhood, as well as social emotional learning and development, is really putting our children at a disadvantage," Sara Ribnicky stated.

"There’s no time to play in ten minutes. By the time you’re outside, you’re lining up to come back inside. It’s not recess," Eileen Nalor says.

The district says transition time will not be a part of the ten minute breaks.

Several parents, including Perkins, say during the first four days of school, their child has only gotten one ten minute break.

"It’s not just a physical well being, it’s an emotional well being also," Perkins added.

The letter sent to parents says schools will transition back to the traditional model of recess when the CDC and local health departments deem it safe to do so.

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