Recess Guidance

The Utah Recess Guidance for Schools

The Utah Recess Guidance is a set of recommendations for when elementary school students should stay indoors for recess based on current air quality. The Guidance aligns with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality Recommendations and links indoor recess recommendations to PM2.5 levels, which is the air pollutant of main concern during winter months. The Guidance also takes into account students with respiratory symptoms or pre-existing respiratory conditions who may be more sensitive to poor air quality than their peers.

How was the Utah Recess Guidance Developed?

The Utah Asthma Program hosted the third Air Quality and Health Summit on June 2016. The Summit was attended by 53 participants representing 27 different stakeholder organizations (including schools, health scientists, health care professionals, advocacy groups, and parent groups). During the Summit, presentations from state and national partners were shared on the following topics:

    • Current Utah Recess Guidance Program
    • Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Index and Flag Program Recommendations
    • Air Quality and Health Research
    • Physical Activity Research and School Logistics

After the presentations and resulting discussion, the Summit attendees determined to update the Utah Recess Guidance to better align with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality recommendations and meet the needs of Utah communities. Everyone has a different sensitivity to poor air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency recommendations are based off 24 hour exposure average to PM2.5 and recommendations are written for adults. The Utah Recess Guidance is meant for 20-30 minute outdoor recess exposure among children.


“I know some of my schools have this posted and refer to it daily, especially when there is a question of the air quality. They also monitor the particulate count each day. Thanks for your efforts to help our schools out.”

Diane Broadhead, RN, Davis School District

“Recess Guidance has been critical in helping me know how to help our students stay healthy and safe. Thank you for your support!”

BJ Weller, LCSW, Canyon View Elementary

“Last year was our first year to receive the alerts. We found it very helpful...We try to have the students outdoors for recesses as much as possible, so it's important that we know when it is not a healthy choice to do so.”

Pam Mertz, Summit Christian Academy

“Using the recess guidance provided for us has been very helpful to determine whether the air quality is safe for our students to go out and play in. It is so easy to just open the email and click on the link and have the air quality for our area available without searching and taking a lot of time.”

Trudy Messick, Renaissance Academy