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The Dissemination and Implementation of Recess Guidelines, Policies, and Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Edward B. Olsen, Emi Tsuda, James D. Wyant, Ranaysia Burrell, Jessica Mukherjee, Ara McKay, Joseph Herrera, and David Labrador

Purpose: There are limited school physical activity policy dissemination and implementation studies. This is a concern given the adverse mental, physical, and socio-emotional effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children and adolescents. This study explored New Jersey school administrators’ experiences in disseminating recess guidelines, procedures, and policies as well as implementation strategies in their schools during the pandemic. Methods: A total of 29 elementary school administrators participated in semi-structured interviews. The data were analyzed inductively using a conventional approach to qualitative content analysis. Results: In analyzing the data, five themes were identified: (a) adjustments for recess, (b) communications about recess, (c) successes and challenges of recess, (d) health and well-being among children, and (e) recommendations for recess postpandemic. Discussion/Conclusion: When planning, organizing, and implementing a recess in a postpandemic era, school leaders may want to consider establishing cohorts, developing a handbook, creating a rotation schedule (i.e., blacktop, field, playground), developing a recess committee, utilizing the physical education teacher for staff development, assigning recess equipment and bags, offering a variety of activities, and teaching children how to play.