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Plainwell parents concerned over elementary school's new recess policy

PLAINWELL, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Some parents in Plainwell are outraged Thursday night, as they express concern about changes to recess at an elementary school.

Gilkey Elementary's principal, Martha Hymer, sent a letter home Thursday, explaining early morning recess for Kindergarten and first grade students will move inside.

The parents say the kids need to be out moving and not be cooped up in a classroom, and they're worried their concerns aren't being taken to heart.

Newschannel 3 was forwarded several copies of the letter sent to families, which says that change is needed to increase academic growth and stresses there will still be an outside recess after lunch.

Some parents, however, feel the move will do more harm than good.

"He needs the time to vent; he needs the time to run," one parent, Ashley Green told Newschannel 3 about her first-grade son at Gilkey.

"They're not looking at well-rounded kids; they're just looking to improve their test scores," said Robin Semm, another parent.

Julli Bennett, the President of the Parent's Club added, "no, we have never been heard."

Bennett says they've been very clear about their concerns.

"Last week, we asked for information and we were given one story; we were then alluded to the fact that it was a weather-related issue," she said. "And then, we were told in the paperwork coming home today that it's test scores."

The letter sent home to parents states that "sometimes, this 20 minute break takes up to 40 minutes."

Green says her son can't wait to get outside.

"She clocked my son in at 42 seconds today, so I don't see the validity in the statement she has given," Green said.

Semm says that the school has been unable to provide them with the facts and data used to reach the conclusions outlined in the letter.

The letter also states that other schools have made the change, and that it was teachers who initiated it.

Parents Club leaders will meet with the superintendent next month.

By then, they say it will be too late.

The letter sent home to parents does include an extensive question and answer section, aimed at addressing parent concerns.

The principal also apologizes for any confusion, saying, "We would never do anything that is detrimental to your children. I want to assure you that Gilkey remains committed to and diligent in providing to your child the best educational experience possible."

We made multiple attempts to contact Plainwell's superintendent about the issue, but our calls were not returned Thursday.