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Weather Recess Guidelines

January 25, 2024

Cold Weather Guidelines

Outdoor recess is an important part of a child’s school day and schools are highly encouraged to provide students with the opportunity to play outside whenever possible. A school’s plan for recess should provide flexibility for inclement weather. Holding recess indoors should be a backup plan and should not be the norm for a school. Please use the following guidelines provided to determine whether recess is held indoors or outdoors each day:


Recess Held

Above 32 °F with or without wind chill* 


15 °F to 32 °F with or without wind chill* 

Principal Discretion

Below 15 °F with or without wind chill* 


*With or without wind chill means how cold it feels, whether it is caused by wind chill or not. For example, if the temperature reading is 10 degrees without wind chill, or if it's 20 degrees with a wind chill of 10 degrees, recess should be held indoors.

Schools should follow the below precautionary measures if holding recess outdoors: 

Precipitation: snowy and icy conditions outdoors should be evaluated for student safety 

Student preparedness: students should have appropriate outdoor attire (i.e. beanies, jackets, gloves, boots, etc.) to stay warm and dry during outdoor recess 

Playground safety: assess the playground equipment and surfaces for snowy or icy conditions to determine whether students can safely play outdoors 

Warm Weather Guidelines


Recess Held

Heat index of 90 °F or below**


Heat index between 91 °F and 94 °F** 

Principal Discretion

Heat index above 95 °F** 


**Heat Index takes into account both air temperature and relative humidity. 

Schools should follow the below precautionary measures if holding recess outdoors: 

Activity level: students should participate in only light to moderate physical activity in a high heat index

Student preparedness: students should wear appropriate attire and sunscreen if possible during warm weather

Playground equipment: the playground equipment and surfaces should be checked prior to recess to ensure that students do not play on equipment that is extremely hot to the touch 

Water access: students should have access to water before, during, and after recess 

Other considerations: On warm weather days, schools should designate a shaded area as a cool down area for students who need a break from exposure or activity.

Where to check weather temperatures?  

Air Quality Considerations

High air quality index(AQI)/ozone days can be dangerous, and schools should proceed with caution on these days. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concerns. There are a number of health impacts to the general public due to poor air quality, such as decrease in lung function and inflammation of airways with the symptoms of coughing, throat irritation, chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and pain and burning in the chest when taking a deep breath. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are more susceptible to the effects of ozone exposure. In Northern Arizona, air quality can be affected during fire season and when US Forest Service are conducting control burns.  

To find current air quality information please visit the website here 

If the air quality index is in the orange, an index between 101-150 indoor recess options should be available for students and staff with respiratory issues. Outdoor activity requirements should be modified and an indoor option be made available for these same individuals as well.

If the air quality index is in the red, an index between 151-200 all recess and outdoor activities should be moved indoors.

If the air quality index is in the purple or maroon, an index between 201 or higher, all recess and outdoor activities are required to be indoors.