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Recess offered for students stuck at home

Suffolk Parks and Recreation is hosting an outdoor recess to give virtual and homeschool students a break from being stuck inside all day.

The recess will run once a week from 9 to 11 a.m. during the month of January. Ages 5 to 7 will meet on Tuesdays, and ages 8 to 11 will meet on Thursdays. The recess will meet at the campfire pit at Sleepy Hole Park, 4616 Sleepy Hole Road.

“Our kids need time outside and away from laptops and phones and other screens,” said Nakiesha Bridgers, the outdoor programs specialist at Suffolk Parks and Recreation. “I feel like this is something the community needs right now.”

At these recess sessions, students will do various outdoor activities to fight cabin fever. According to Bridgers, the activities will depend on how many students sign up. Activities may include nature art, fire building, bird watching and fort building.

Those who participate need to bring a water bottle and wear woods- and weather-appropriate clothing, including long pants and closed-toe shoes for exploring the trails. The classes will continue, whether rain or shine.

To keep gathering numbers down, only five children will be allowed at each session. Children must be accompanied by an adult the entire time. Masks and social distancing will be required, with health screenings at arrival.

Initially, these outdoor recess programs catered to homeschooled students. With Suffolk Public Schools still virtual, more students find themselves home all day who are not accustomed to it.

“This is still catered towards homeschooled groups since it’s during the morning hours, but anyone can come who needs some fresh air,” said Bridgers.

The cost is $5 a session. Advanced registration is required and can be done online at registerpkr.suffolk-va.net with registration code #417708, or in person at East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St. and Whaleyville Recreation Center, 132 Robertson St.