Schools should ensure that students have adequate breaks between classes
Education authorities have asked schools to make sure students have 10-minute breaks between classes after hearing complaints that some primary and middle school students are not allowed to leave classrooms during breaks — unless they need to go to the toilet — to ensure their safety.
A middle school teacher in Jinzhong, Shanxi province, recently complained that 70 percent of students do not leave their classrooms during breaks, according to China National Radio.
Some students said teachers often wait a few minutes to dismiss their classes, and some start their classes a few minutes before the breaks are scheduled to end, in which case some do not even have time to go to the toilet.
A mother of a primary school student in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, said her child's school does not allow students to leave the classroom building during breaks. They are also forbidden to jump, run around or speak loudly.
The issue has prompted heated discussion on social media platforms. The hashtag "Primary and middle school students do not have time to go to the toilet during class breaks" has trended on Sina Weibo, garnering more than 270 million views.
"Teachers also do not want to supervise students during class breaks. However, if students have accidents, some parents will still hold schools accountable," said one netizen in a comment that received more than 10,000 likes.
Another said, "Teachers are also tired, but the school makes such a requirement, and they have to follow."
An official from the Ministry of Education told Xinhua News Agency that it is imperative for primary and middle schools to ensure students have time to rest between class breaks, which can help students relax, be healthy and avoid myopia.
The ministry attaches great importance to class breaks, the official said. A 2021 guideline from the ministry forbids schools to put restrictions on class breaks. Apart from breaks between classes, schools should also make sure students have a 30-minute break each day for exercise.
The ministry will urge local authorities and schools to implement the policies and curb the practice of restricting class breaks in the name of "ensuring students' safety", the official said. A notice issued recently by the Chengdu education bureau in Sichuan province encouraged schools to extend their class breaks and allow students to go outside to get some exercise. Teachers should not teach or place unnecessary restrictions on students during break periods, the notice said.
A survey conducted by China Youth Daily of around 1,900 parents of primary and middle school students found that 75 percent of them said the class breaks have become very quiet for their children.
In the survey, 58 percent of the parents also said schools do not allow students to speak or laugh loudly during class breaks in classrooms; 46 percent said their children are not allowed to leave the classroom building; and 45 percent said students are not allowed to speak loudly, even outside of the classroom.
A primary school teacher in Hebei province told Xinhua that if a student is hurt during class breaks, the school not only has to apologize to parents, it will also sometimes need to pay the medical bills, so it feels compelled to implement such restrictions.
Cui Shifeng, principal of Hefei Hupo Mingcheng Primary School in Anhui province, told China Daily that it is not common for schools to restrict students' activities during breaks, and only a small number of schools do so. The reason some schools have such restrictions is because they have outdated education philosophies, while others do so because they have seen previous accidents, he said.
It is very important for schools to give students breaks, as they are critical for their overall development, Cui said. Furthermore, parents and society as a whole should also reduce the pressure they place on schools and teachers, he added.
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