Measure allowing 20 minutes of relaxation in Illinois schools headed to the governor

The Illinois General Assembly has advanced a measure that allows students to get the opportunity to take part in relaxation activities, including yoga, 20 minutes a week. Some warn it could lead to lawsuits.

Relaxation activities may include, but are not limited to, mindful-based movements, yoga, stretching, meditation, breathing exercises, guided relaxation techniques, quiet time, walking, in-person conversation and other activities. Senate Bill 2872 would allow a school district to partner with a local community-based organization to provide the activities.

State Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee, said downtime is needed because today’s children are facing more trauma than ever before.

“I have read countless articles about the benefits of mindfulness and stress reduction in classrooms,” said Mason. “It improves grades, it improves concentration, it helps kids cope.”

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said the legislation will make school districts vulnerable to lawsuits as was the case in Chicago.

“This is a very bad idea,” said Wilhour. “There are already cases where situations like this have been abused. The Chicago Public Schools have paid money to negate this very issue.”

One class action lawsuit involves David Lynch’s “Quiet Time” transcendental mediation program at some Chicago schools. The lead plaintiff said she was pressured to sign a consent form and nondisclosure agreement about the program.

After a rousing debate, the House passed the bill by a 71-40 vote. It now heads to the governor for his signature.

Illinois Radio Network