Outrage of the Week: Students Denied Recess Due to Snow

Hi Readers — Here adrtyfrtnr
you snow.
er, go, from Scotland, via news.scotsman.com:

CHILDREN have been banned from playing in the snow during break times at city schools due to health and safety fears.

Pupils in some primaries have been kept inside during their morning and lunchtime breaks since the schools re-opened on Wednesday.The decision to stop the pupils playing in the snow has sparked criticism among parents, who believe it is “misguided” and is depriving children from enjoying the winter fun.

One of the schools involved is James Gillespie’s Primary where the headteacher stopped youngsters going out on Wednesday and Thursday during playtimes. It is understood reasons including the depth of the snow, a shortage of staff to supervise the children and the resulting mess from pupils walking with wet boots into the building were cited for the decision.

I’m cheered to know that some parents found this ludicrous, as did some other officials. But that headteacher — sheesh!It’s no fun when safety hysteria trumps absolutely everything else in life. Including snowmen. And women (see below). — Lenore 

Not quite relevant, but is this or is this not the COOLEST snow-woman (and kid) ever?

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54 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Students Denied Recess Due to Snow

  1. Carol December 10, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    Do all the students own snowboots? Could this not be a gentle way of not making a class distinction between those children that do own snowboots and those that do not? This could also stop the mocking of those who are too poor or have parents too disorganized to get them proper winter wear. Here where I live, there is a group that drives to school bus stops to give out free winter coats to students waiting for the bus that don’t have one. I am sure with the unemployment rate the way it is this problem is only getting worse.

    The complaining parents can quite complaining and come up with solutions regarding the inequity of winter clothing as well as the (real) hazard of possible slipping on the wet linoleum floors.

  2. morninglight mama December 10, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    This is par for the course here in our MD county, unfortunately. It also has to do with the fact that the class is only allotted 15 minutes for recess– including the time to walk to and from. Add in getting dressed in snow gear and then coming back and getting undressed and stuff put away, and that would leave approximately zero minutes for recess. Add the mess that ~70 kids per grade could make and the school doesn’t even consider it. Snow, slush, rain, drizzle, cold temperatures, etc= indoor recess. It sucks.

  3. SKL December 10, 2010 at 3:11 am #

    I keep bringing my kids’ boots to preschool every day, and so far they haven’t used them. They say they take the kids out in the snow, but apparently it doesn’t happen very often.

    Last year their teacher would post a note saying they were going out in the snow on a particular day, meaning it didn’t happen any other day.

    But, it could be because most parents aren’t bringing boots for their kids. No point going out if most of the class is unprepared (at this age).

    But it’s a bummer, because by the time the kids get out of “school,” it’s dark and a lot colder.

  4. SKL December 10, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Snow and slush were yucky when I was a kid too, but we hardly ever had indoor recess. (And I had many a wet sock to prove it!)

  5. Mike December 10, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    Snow is a once in 20 years’ event where I live. Still, I can’t imagine keeping kids away from it. Snow is so much fun to stomp around in!

  6. Heidi December 10, 2010 at 3:28 am #

    They are acting like kids never play in the snow…

    I grew up in Florida and when I was in kindergarten they ENCOURAGED us to play in a giant mound of shaved ice shipped over to the playground field for “Snow Day.”

  7. WendyW December 10, 2010 at 3:28 am #

    In MN, the elem. schools have a supply of sleds for recess, and the “lost and found” box of hats and mittens is available for the use of anyone who needs to borrow some. However, in MN you KNOW it will be cold and snowy, and all the snow gear is at school because a kid won’t get out the door from home without it- they’d literally get frostbite at the bus stop if they did.

    I can see how this would be different if snow is not the normal weather. Kids having to spend the entire afternoon in wet clothes, and possibly walk home in them later, is not at all pleasant. As for the wet floors- so what. Put the janitor on squeegee/mop duty during the recess period.

  8. Amanda December 10, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    I live in Topeka, KS so we get snow but not as often as many places do. My daughters previous school allowed the children to go out to recess with snow on the ground as long as they had proper attire, i.e. snow boots, gloves, snow suit, etc. I’m not sure about my daughters school this year, but I do know that they aren’t allowed to go to an outside recess if the wind chill is 15 degree or below that, which is fine with me because she doesn’t have too much fun when she does go outside and it’s really cold. With the heat, if the heat index is 95 or above then they have to stay inside. I think those rules are pretty lenient compared to many places.

  9. Amanda December 10, 2010 at 3:32 am #

    Oh and a note to my previous post. We rarely stay below 15 degrees during the day time hours. It will be that cold in the morning but will warm up to the 20s or 30s so the kids get a recess most of the time. Now, during our stormy months, with lightening being a big problem, the kids probably stay inside a lot more often.

  10. C. S. P. Schofield December 10, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    Is it just me, or does anyone else have the impression that the Safety nitwits who try to suck all the un-regimented fun out of childhood, and the health nitwits who are sooooooo concerned about childhood obesity are the same nitwits?

  11. Kristen Truong December 10, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    There seems to be a lot of variation here dependent on the climate of the area. I’m in Michigan, and my daughter’s school and son’s preschool expect the kids to come to school with appropriate winter gear. My daughter’s school has additional rules when the snow is significant: you have to have snowpants and boots to play “off the blacktop” during recess. But, everyone goes outside.

  12. pentamom December 10, 2010 at 3:38 am #

    The “depth of the snow” was mentioned. Scotland is not Maryland — could it be that it was really deep, so deep that the amount of fun they could have had would have been quite limited anyway?

  13. Jen Connelly December 10, 2010 at 4:01 am #

    My kids’ old school kept them in if there was snow on the parking lot (not plowed) because it just got the kids wet and messy. And not all kids wore boots to school since they all got rides from parents (no need for boots if you barely step foot outside of buildings and cars). They also weren’t allowed to touch the snow if they did go out (and it had to be about 32F for them to go out). If they got caught playing in the snow they lost the rest of their recess and might get a detention (for throwing snowballs or just throwing snow).

    It never seemed unreasonable to me, but, then again, I never had recess as a kid. The schools I went to just weren’t equipped to handle it so “recess” was 15 minutes of free time after lunch inside our classrooms.

    At my kids’ old school if they didn’t go outside for recess the teacher would try to take them to the gym to run around if there wasn’t a gym class going on or they weren’t using it for other stuff (the gym was in the church basement). Otherwise they did the free time thing in their classroom.

    Their new school takes them out as long as it isn’t pouring rain out. They always end up coming home wet and muddy from playing on the playground in the rain. But since it’s always raining here they either do that or never go outside.

  14. April December 10, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    You know I’m a teacher in Nebraska and whenever the temperature is below 20 degrees OR the playground has snow or is wet from recent rain, we have indoor recess. This pretty much mean RARE outdoor recess from Nov-March. UGH!
    The reason is because of a) the mess kids make when they come in and b) the fact that most of them do not come to school wearing proper attire for the weather (something about being middle schoolers makes them decide that they will NOT follow parental advice in the morning and wear warm clothes!)

  15. Juliet Robertson December 10, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    Scottish head teachers (school principals) have to make difficult decisions regarding snow. Whatever decision they make, they are dammned if they do allow children to play in snow and/or close a school and damned if they don’t. I speak from experience as a former HT of 3 Scottish schools from 1998-2007

    When this article was posted, the amount of snow that had fallen in Edinburgh was quite a lot for the population to handle – much more than the usual light dusting. My sister, who lives less than a mile from this school sent me a photo on the morning of this article and it was quite something! It’s likely that many children – even at this well-to-do school would not have had appropriate clothing and footwear.

    So I expect many HTs were making decisions from a position of uncertainty and relative lack of experience and understanding. The buck stops with the HT with no advice given from line managers, local authorities or the Government.

    One school has been highlighted in this article. I would bet many other nearby schools will have made a similar decision. Why? Because other HTs are the only source of advice available so joint decisions are often made.

    Next, like in many countries, there are many Scottish HTs who live in fear of being sued, of children getting hurt, of the repercussions of making the wrong decision. Also parents get VERY stroppy about snow and weather – more so than the quality of learning & teaching taking place. Snow rage is quite common with verbal abuse hurled at HTs.

    On a positive note I’m now an outdoor learning consultant and I work with school to support them in getting children outside all year round in Scotland!

    ….any teachers or parents looking for educational activities in all areas of the curriculum can download my free Winter Wonderland resource pack http://www.creativestarlearning.co.uk/Flexviews/core/assets/creative%20star%20winter%20wonderland%20pack.pdf

    And yes, I did let children play in the snow at breaktimes. Of course I did. I risk assessed the situation and always came to the conclusion that the benefits of this outweighed the risks involved. The lost property box was used as a source of spare clothing for children who got wet.

  16. Cyndi December 10, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    I used to teach in the UK. We seldom got snow but the one day we did, I was the only one allowed outside to play (age 25) due to the fact that I had never seen snow falling (grew up in South Africa). The kids weren’t allowed out if it snowed due to H&S regulations.

    Same kids couldn’t walk barefoot from their class to the hall for PE/PT as they could “possibly” step on a thumb tack or staple on the carpet.

    It’s sad but it’s their reality – luckily here in NZ there is less focus on what if’s and more focus on getting out there and living.

  17. Heather Q December 10, 2010 at 4:12 am #

    This is par for the course in the Virginia schools where I taught. No school at all until every sidewalk is clear and no outdoor recess until the snow is gone. It made for some hellish days! I was the ONLY teacher that would take the kids outside if it was below about 40 F .

  18. Fern December 10, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    To be fair, I can quite believe this. In the UK, our winter isn’t normally very bad – it used to be that every few years, we’d get a light dusting of snow. For about the last two years, we’ve had an incredible amount. I live in the south and in January we had about a foot and a half on the ground. It’s a major concern as we just aren’t adapted to cope with it – many people don’t have proper snow gear (and if they do, it’s generally because they do skiing or something), we don’t have the infrastructure in place to clear the roads, etc. etc. It’s a very unusual event and causes *severe* disruption.

    I’m all for kids playing in the snow, but I can understand lack of supervision and wet floors being an issue. I go to a 6th form college (generally 16018 year olds) and when we were open (I had 2 days off last week for snow), the corridors were LETHAL – and that’s with people who are old enough to know to wipe their feet and be careful. Plus, many people didn’t have appropriate shoes – some people have wellies or maybe walking boots, but many people just have regular winter boots that simply aren’t safe in that kind of weather. Certainly as a child I would not have had anything LIKE suitable footwear – as it is, I only have a pair of wellies because they fit both me and my mum.

  19. Steph December 10, 2010 at 4:27 am #

    Meh, this isn’t nearly as horrible as some of the other stuff I’ve read about on this site. I do feel like the “not enough staff to supervise” is kind of a weak excuse – so they have enough staff to supervise when the weather is nice??? And unless the snow is so deep the kids can’t even move around in it, I don’t see that as being a problem. But I can see how having kids tracking a bunch of snow into the building, which would then melt, make the floors slippery, and create a legitimate safety hazard.

    I don’t remember ever having outdoor recess when there was a lot of snow on the ground, or even when it was extremely cold. I never really gave it a second thought – we kids would just take advantage of the opportunity to play basketball in the gym or play other indoor sports. I never felt deprived because I knew I could always play in the snow after school and on the weekends.

    I’d say as long as there is a decent indoor space where the kids can run around and use up some of their energy so they can focus during afternoon classes, then it’s not that big a deal.

  20. Erin December 10, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    Here in NC my boys had recess today (Thursday) for the first time this week. On Mon-Wed they were kept inside because it was too cold out for recess. Today the thermometer hit a balmy 40 something degrees, so they were allowed out. My suspicion is that many of the kids come to school unprepared for the weather, but it still makes me frustrated as legally my children are entitled to 20 minutes of recess a day in this state. There just aren’t the resources available to supervise to sets of children — those inside without coats and those outside with coats. So they all stay inside.

  21. EricS December 10, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    Again, another case of “what’s best for the adults”, NOT the kids. What the school is actually trying to say is, “we are lazy, and having personal issues, and can’t be bothered to deal with the added responsibility of keeping an eye out for the kids while they play outside. Plus the janitors have complained about having to clean up all the melted snow being dragged in. After all we don’t want them going on strike. That would make things worse for us. So it’s just best we use the excuse of ‘health and safety issue’, seems to work most of the time. Especially for the paranoid parents. We also need a new espresso machine in the teachers lounge. We should cut back on this months school supplies so we can pay for it.”

  22. sue December 10, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    Here in Germany the kids go outside in all sorts of weather except for pouring rain or hail. When my son was in German kindergarten (preschool), parents were told that the kids would be going outside to play in the snow. Parents made sure that their kids had boots, jackets or snowsuits, hats, and gloves. In elementary school the kids go outside and play in the snow. My son and his friends would build snow forts and throw snowballs at each other during recess. Now that my son is in secondary school, the kids still go outside and play around in the snow. If kids are dressed inappropriately, then it’s their fault if they’re cold. There is indoor recess only when it’s raining.

    Germans believe that children need fresh air and exercise. They also believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. My German friends would think that not being allowed to play outside due to snow and cold weather is a joke.

  23. EricS December 10, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    The only time we ever had indoor recess when I was in elementary school, was when there was a severe storm happening. Usually when it hit sooner than expected. But there were times when the forcast said a storm warning was in effect, the school let us go home early. Winter time was great, we had a hill built for sledding. And if I recall correctly, there were only 2 or 3 teachers watching about, well, he whole school (we all went out at the same time). With the bells in their hands. Kids where doing front flips and back flips on the the accumulated snow. Kids were being wiped out at he end of their sled run by kids behind them. We all just laughed it off. Ya, there were some bumps and bruises every so often, but no kids complained, no teachers freaked, and no parents ever filed a law suit. Those were fun times. I feel sorry for some of the kids these days that miss out on things like that. Your childhood only happens once. It should be made the best of.

  24. Sandie December 10, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Sorry, but I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Some of my grade school days were restricted from playing in the snow by administrators.

    Safety, health reasons, low staff numbers to supervise…all excuses given and plausible.

    We send our kids to school, knowing they should be taken care of while there. The same parents who protest the restriction will be the first parents to scream bloody murder should their child break a leg slipping on ice, or get hit by a snowball with a rock in it, or catch pneumonia from playing in the snow.

    You can’t have it both ways, whiny parents.

  25. Donna December 10, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    Keep in mind that Scotland is currently experiencing record low temperatures and record high snow fall. I’m guessing that this is less a reflection of an overall anti-snow mentality and more a reflection on the current situation.

  26. Dragonwolf December 10, 2010 at 5:50 am #

    I grew up in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, the former, at the very least, being in what’s known as the “snowbelt.” I don’t recall ever going outside when there was snow on the ground in the early-mid 90s, unless it hadn’t been snowing for a few days and the blacktop playground was dry.

    In high school, we did get to go outside once or twice for gym for skiing, but even that was rare.

    Of course, our snow tends to be the consistency of wet sand most of the time, which might have something to do with it. =/

  27. EricS December 10, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    @Sandie: I agree with you on that as well. Sadly, it’s a perpetuating issue. Whiny parents complain/sue, teachers react and protect themselves, children get the short end of the stick, non-whiny parents complain that they’re kids aren’t being allowed to do kids stuff, teachers make excuses (angry suing parents trump angry parents), but find some common ground, whiny parents want it all and complain even more, etc…

    The common denominator in this scenario are the whiny, paranoid, fearful, no common sense parents. Which I’d like to think is less than sane parents. Unfortunately, they speak the loudest, and most of the time others listen.

    But in regards to the news article, there was no mention of ill weather. One would think if it were the case, and they said it was because the weather was too cold for anyone to be out, I’m sure there wouldn’t be any parents complaining. But the fact that it wasn’t, and all they said was “it’s a health and safety issue, and there are not enough teachers to supervise”, leads me to believe it’s just that. An excuse. Some one else said here, that they don’t have enough teachers in winter as they do in the spring? Where are all the teachers going during winter time that they suddenly are short staffed? Ahh…the teachers lounge.

  28. Teacher December 10, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    I think the first commenter nailed it.

    There is no such thing as bad weather, but there IS such thing as dangerously inappropriate clothing, and this is a real problem.

  29. Cedar December 10, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    It’s one thing if snow is rare in an area, but anywhere where snow is a regular fact of life should be equipped to deal with winter recess, even if it is a mess. I don’t know what the circumstances are for this specific incident, but generally speaking, snow on the ground should not be an excuse to stay inside. I also don’t find the inappropriate clothing excuse to be valid, at least not in areas where snow and cold are typical; someone already noted that here in MN there’s extra clothing available for use by kids who don’t already have it. I believe in many cases the kids who couldn’t afford appropriate outdoor clothing were given items to keep, permanently; after all, they needed it to get to and from school (or bus stop), too. Kids need recess, and schools need to be able to deal with snow. Some of my best recess memories involve stomping through melting snow and ice; very messy, but very fun. We used to slide down the hill by the playground, too. I think they kept us inside if the windchill went below zero, but other than that we all bundled up and went out. As far as I know, most local schools still do that. In MN, those recess opportunities are especially important because our winter sunlight hours are so limited; it’s not unusual for it to be dark when the kids are home. It’s not just the physical activity that’s important, but also access to sunlight and to fresh air.

  30. Cheryl W December 10, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Sounds like a good day to be sick and stay home!

    When I worked at a preschool in MD, the kids went outside unless it was below 20 F. Parents were told to bring appropriate clothing. Sometimes we had to lend stuff. The kids had a grand time and the teachers were happy to have them play outside.

    This reminds me of when my daughter was in Kinder and we lived in Santa Cruz, CA. Her class took a trip to the beach to see the ocean, and visit a small museum. The only problem? When it came time to go play on the beach, they were way up – beyond the high water mark, and unless those little guys stood on tiptoes, they couldn’t even see the water! I refused to take any other kids than my own (we were a rich school- parents had to drive kids and we never got to use a bus like the poorer schools. I didn’t want to have to hurry back from the beach with someone else’s kid.) So I was there for the afternoon kinder too. Those kids got to get within 15 feet of the water, and at least see the waves. My child got to go into the water – that may have been the day that I actually started homeschooling….

  31. LauraL December 10, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I don’t buy the wet floor thing. My school has a custodian with a mop, and yeah, kids slip and fall. That’s part of growing up and learning how to walk on wet surfaces!

  32. knutty knitter December 10, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    I remember the day we sat in our classroom and watched the snow drift slowly through our ceiling. The roof was under renovation but we never got any time off – just told to wear our woollies inside.

    Snow was never an excuse to stay inside. Only time I remember being kept in was when a high wind started taking out some of our trees. We watched them fall from the inside.

    viv in nz

  33. Alexicographer December 10, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Meh. I can’t get excited about this as a “problem.” Scotland’s had record snowfalls and residents are struggling with how best to deal with it; apparently one part of that process is some kids are keeping kids inside. That may or may not be the “best” decision, but it’s just folks trying to deal with unusual circumstances for which they’re not prepared. Not a big deal, IMHO.

    Also a total non-issue in my part of the world (SE US) where schools close at the drop of a snowflake, turning the whole day into recess — arguably an equally silly reaction (the closing, not the recess) but the same basic cause with the opposite effect.

  34. Alexicographer December 10, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    … whoops, I meant to say, “some schools are keeping kids inside,” not “some kids are keeping kids inside.” Doh!

  35. Jaynie December 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    In fairness, they have had a bloody massive amount of snow in some areas (a friend is in it up to her chest!), and seem ill-equip to deal with it (I’ve heard reports of hospitals cancelling appointments, etc). I’m not saying that’s necessarily the case, but I’m willing to give the teachers the benefit of the doubt here. I’m not saying it’s the best thing ever, but I think the cost could just outweigh the benefit this once.

    I’ve moved out to Vancouver island recently from Edmonton, so I’ve seen the difference being used to snow can make. In Edmonton I’ve walked home from junior high school during a near-blizzard in low -40s weather. Here, -15 and half a foot of snow and people start panicking, because they don’t have the supplies to deal with it. (Snow tires are a big deal, and while we’re talking about ridiculous British decisions, how about the insurance companies disallowing people from getting them?). Even I don’t have the snuggly warm, waterproof gear here that I do at home, and it makes it very miserable trudging through the snow. in wet jeans and soaking converse.

  36. Orielwen December 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    EricS: ‘Some one else said here, that they don’t have enough teachers in winter as they do in the spring? Where are all the teachers going during winter time that they suddenly are short staffed?’

    It’s melting now, but the snow closed a lot of roads. If the teachers didn’t live nearby, they might well not have been able to get in. So the school may well genuinely have been short-staffed.

  37. BMS December 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    I have memories of running around at recess, in the snow, in my saddle shoes, because I forgot my boots that day. Somehow, I survived the Chicago winters. It had to be the Blizzard of ’79 for the nuns to keep us inside.

    I also have memories of my cousin playing ‘King of the Mountain’ during recess – while on crutches recovering from a broken leg sustained while doing something else equally stupid. Good times 🙂

  38. Library Diva December 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    I grew up in the Buffalo, NY metro area and don’t recall getting outdoor recess once the snow flew. It’s a lot of gear for little ones to keep track of, it’s brutally cold out, and our playground was in the middle of a field with the only blacktopped area being the parking lot, so very little for us to do outside anyway. There’s also the issue of kids with weather-induced asthma that will get sick outside.

    I don’t think this is necessarily a terrible thing as long as alternatives are explored. The kids can play board games, classroom games like 7-Up and “mumball”, or maybe have gym time. I’ve heard that the common games like checkers that a lot of us grew up playing are novelties to today’s kids, so maybe they’d enjoy that just as much. In my neck of the woods, learning to entertain oneself during the months where a “warm day” is one above freezing is a valuable life skill.

  39. su N December 10, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    I am sure they do let them play in the gym. I hated going outside in the winter and I HATED being forced to endure recess outside in the freezing cold, so I guess I don’t see the problem.

    If they choose, free range kids can build their snow people (so PC) at home.

    I don’t know, not that outrageous when seen from my perspective – not every kid likes snow.

  40. Larry Harrison December 10, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    Canceling recess on account of snow is like canceling breaks at work because they’re free steak, baked potatoes and free refills in the break room.


  41. Benno December 10, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Lawsy! I remember in 4th grade in Illinois (1983) being forced to go outside in a freezing cold snowfall in only a flannel shirt because it was recess and they couldn’t very well leave me inside by myself. So I sat and shivered against the wall while all my friends threw snowballs at each other.

    Did my teacher care that I didn’t have a coat, that I might get chilly, that I might catch a cold? God bless ’em, no they did not.

    At least now, as an Irishman, I can makes Scots jokes without any pangs of guilt.

  42. Matt L. December 11, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    My reading of it is that they are playing the safety card to just mask that they are too lazy to go through the motions of getting kids ready to go outside/come back in… It is really no colder (materially, I don’t care about your 5 degrees of global climate change) now than it has been for centuries and we all did just fine.

  43. Susan D December 11, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    Our family moved to Italy for a year last year, The adventure of a life time for sure. My son who wa 8 at the time went to the local school, the 1st phrase he made sure he learned in Italian was “May I go to the bathroom, the 2nd was ” Can we go outside today” Outdoor recess was not the norm at this school. He is delighted to now be back in Toronto and going outside for recess no matter what>

  44. Laura December 11, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    My kids school last year wouldn’t allow K and up to play in the snow, preK could. Now of course they only got 10 minutes of recess ANYWAY so uh…yeah.

    This year…new school, totally different story! OUT OUT OUT unless there is a tornado or 5 seconds until frozen stiff temperature…I <3 our new school.

  45. RadiantLux December 11, 2010 at 4:00 am #

    @morninglightmama – that’s the exact reason I would say my school district would give.

    My kids barely get 15 min/day. I asked the teachers if she could at least let them get up and jump around a little in between subjects.

  46. SKL December 11, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    This morning I asked if the kids would be going outside. The teacher (note this is in daycare, not “school”), said that the state law requires that they can only go outside if all the children have on boots, hat, coat, gloves, and snow pants. And the only time that happens is when they specifically beg the parents to bring them. I know the monthly newsletter I get tells parents to bring these every day, but I guess many/most parents ignore that.

  47. Juliet Robertson December 11, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    Woah! Woah! Woah!

    The teachers are this school are very hard working. They are not lazy. Time taken to prepare children for going outside is a concern but not an issue as a general rule of thumb.

    Teachers are not paid for their breaks or lunch time in Scotland. Thus supervision duties cannot be enforced nor expected of them from class teacher through to head teacher. If this surprises any readers, well, that’s the way of things in Scotland. In every state school.

    If I insisted upon this duty as a HT (principal), then it would have to be negotiated via the union rep, the teachers would have had to have been paid from a non-existent budget and then have to have a paid break during class time. Uh-oh!

    So who is paid to supervise children at break and lunchtimes? In my part of Scotland, for schools with a roll of less than 50, no one. Children can be outside unsupervised.

    For a roll of 50 to 200, one supervisor is allocated. For over 200 students in a primary (elementary) school, 2 adults are employed.

    Most schools try and increase the number of ancillary staff on duty during break times. This takes away time from classroom duties but most schools feel this is worthwhile.

    I made a point of being on duty during breaks and lunch times as it was an informal opportunity for me to get to know the children. It also helped to boost the number of staff outside. It also meant that when it was snowy or raining, no parent nor child could complain that I was tucked away in a warm cosy office.

  48. Alex December 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    One issue here (southwest USA — desert) is that we don’t know how to deal with snow. We don’t get a lot of it, so when we do, often times an inch will cause a delay and two a cancellation! When it snows at school, depending on the teacher, we either run outside to enjoy it, recess or not, or are kept inside. Part of it is a lack of weather appropriate clothing, because we can’t afford it or leave it at home because we’re not used to it (or that was the excuse when some of us really just didn’t have the right clothes). Some of us just don’t like anything below 50 or 60 degrees and don’t mind. Some of it is the mud we might track in. I really don’t remember minding if we were kept inside because if we could go outside, we couldn’t touch the snow. No snowballs, no snowmen (although they would likely only be a few inches tall anyways), no snow angels, no looking like we might do anything with the snow! It was too tempting — I’d rather be inside than try to keep myself away from the snow.

  49. Kimberly December 12, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    I’m on the Gulf Coast – Houston. Last year it snowed -really snowed. It was during announcements – the principal said “It’s snowing go outside.” We had a blast and trooped back in soaking wet.

    It started snowing again later that day and we poured back out and got soaking wet again.

  50. Mandy December 15, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    My oldest goes to public school and they do not go out in bad weather. They don’t always go out even in nice weather. I’m unhappy with it but it’s the least of our district’s problems.
    My middle son is in private school and they go out twice a day as long as it’s not raining. I volunteer often and am amazed that the teachers stand outside for 40 minutes a day in below freezing temperatures. It is miserable.

  51. Kimberly December 16, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    @Mandy I’m at a public school and I take the kids outside until it gets down towards the low 40’s (Remember I’m in Subtropical Houston and most of my kids just have cloth hoodies no real jackets). Lower than mid 40’s is very unusual during mid day when we have recess.

    On the opposite end we go out in the fall and spring as long as we aren’t breaking the century mark and there isn’t an ozone/air quality warning.

    The pay off for me is the kids pay attention in the afternoon after they have had a chance to run and play.

    Rain here means thunderstorms, so we don’t go out in the rain. If the playground is a swamp we go to paved areas to run and play.

  52. Heather December 19, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    . One article i read about how London was shut down because of a 8 ” of snow, ( our London Ontario got about 6 ft). Schools are cancelled because it was -2c in some areas of the US, We were at -24c and the kids still went out for recess. The cold weather does not make you ill, viruses do. Thursday was such a beautiful day it had warmed up to -9c

  53. Naomi Fox December 31, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    My elementary school-aged siblings don’t get recess when there is snow or the temperature is too low either. However, this is mostly because we live in a very poor district and many of the kids don’t have any winter gear.

  54. Natalie January 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    I went to a parochial school in Chicago as a kid (I’m only 20 now but read this blog semi-religiously). We weren’t usually allowed out for recess (which we had until we graduated 8th grade, might I add!) when it snowed more than an inch or so, but it was mainly because my class was on the small side and the teachers knew not everyone had proper gear. On gym days where the teachers knew we had a change of clothes they would occasionally let us play in the snow. Honestly it wasn’t a huge deal to any of us because we got plenty of snow days anyway.