How cold is too cold for recess? Alaska schools say that number can vary

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As cold snaps hit Anchorage and other major Alaska communities, school districts are tasked with determining how cold is too cold for their students to go outside for recess.

Monday, temperatures in the city dipped below zero in some locations, with others barely sustaining single digits. For kids at school, that means their recess might be changed or shortened.

For the Anchorage School District, a general rule of thumb is that recess can proceed outside for students if the temperature is minus 10 degrees or warmer. Anything colder, and recess will be inside, shortened, or otherwise adjusted.

However, while the negative 10 degree rule is a general rule, Catherine Esary, spokesperson for ASD, said that school administration and principals still have the final say.

"The principals do have some discretion to change recess even if it's warmer, if other factors like wind chill would make recess outside unpleasant for students," Esary said. "Sometimes principals will have a shortened recess, where students can run around and then come back in to warm up."

Esay said that wellness of students is the number one priority, and physical and outdoor activity contributes to that.

The same figure is used by the Mat-Su Borough School District, with the same temperature threshold of negative 10 degrees serving as a guideline. Individual schools make the calls for their respective students on a daily basis.

According to MSBSD student handbook, "Because weather conditions vary greatly between schools, cold weather policy must originate at the individual school level."

For "general criteria" the temperatures down to negative 10 degrees is regularly scheduled recesses, and below that results in "shortened and/or canceled recesses at the discretion of the principal or designee," Mat-Su states in the handbook.



 
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