As schools return to normality, a growing number of education experts are calling for recess time to be given more significance.
Charles Sturt University School of Education senior lecturer Brendon Hyndman is among 14 researchers from around the world who put together a statement on schools reopening for the "Global Recess Alliance".
"With schools reopening, recess is probably going to be the most powerful healing mechanism for students," he said.
"Rather than it being overlooked or being seen as separate to learning and kids' development, right now it should be at the forefront.
"Involving kids in planning of recess times, holding it outdoors wherever possible, and not being too onerous with strict rules are some of the things we recommend.
"We don't want schools to go back and have a focus only on the classroom set up.
"Recess finally needs to be on the radar."
The statement on recess, released last week, outlines that after isolation, "children will feel the effects of interrupted routines, family stress, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and a lack of physically active and social play.
"Without opportunities to play, learning, school engagement, and mental health are severely compromised - this unprecedented moment in time is no exception.
The alliance outlined ways to make recess COVID-19-safe, and warned of the impacts of social isolation.
"Students may be more energetic, aggressive, or withdrawn, and they may have less capacity to self-regulate, resolve their own conflicts, or figure out how to play together," the alliance said.
"Some students will need help getting connected."
Primary schools in Australia usually run recess breaks of 15 minutes and lunch breaks of one hour.
Dr Hyndman, who wrote Contemporary School Playground Strategies for Healthy Students in 2017, has advocated for more than one hour of recess in schools.
"Australia is a little bit more lenient with recess than somewhere like the United States; there's some guidelines, but schools can determine the amount of recess according to their local needs," he said.
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"There was a school in WA that cut down their recess time to 15 minutes.
"Decades of research has been conducted in this space, so we're trying to compile that, and say, 'This is a real opportunity to re-calibrate this part of the school day, which often gets overlooked.
"Periods of recess should be at least twice a day, preferably more.
"It doesn't need to be seen as separate to learning - there is so much self-directed learning that occurs for the children during play."
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