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New Law on Daily “Play Time” for K-5 Students

On August 13, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 654 (“SB 654”) into law as Public Act 102-0357. The new law is effective immediately and requires public schools to provide students in kindergarten through 5th grade with daily “play time” starting with the 2021-2022 school year. Play time is defined as supervised, unstructured, child-directed play. The law is clear that play time must allow for unstructured play, which may include organized games, but shall not include use of computers, tablets, phones, or videos. Schools are encouraged to hold play time outdoors, but it may be held indoors. If held indoors, schools are encouraged to provide play time in a space that promotes physical activity.

Schools must schedule play time for at least 30 minutes each day. On any school day with less than 5 clock hours, the total time for play time must be at least one-tenth of a day of attendance for students. Play time minutes are considered clock hours for the purpose of calculating the length of the instructional day for daily attendance.

Schools may divide play time into shorter time periods during the school day, so long as they are at least 15 minutes in length. Time spent dressing and undressing for outdoor play time cannot be counted toward the allotted play time. Notably, play time is in addition to physical education; it cannot be offered in lieu of physical education, nor can physical education class count toward play time minutes. For students with disabilities, play time must comply with the student’s IEP or 504 plan.

Finally, schools are prohibited from withholding access to play time as a disciplinary consequence, unless the student’s participation in play time poses an immediate threat to the safety of the student or others. In such cases, school officials must make all reasonable efforts to resolve the threat and minimize any exclusion from play time to the greatest extent practicable.

For information regarding the implementation of SB 654, please contact an attorney in our Students/Special Education practice group.

Source: P.A. 102-0357 (eff. Aug. 13, 2021)