Should School Start Later?

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BY ANNA POLEYESTEWA

As students wake up at 6 a.m., maybe even earlier, to get ready for school at 7:30 a.m., they are usually are very tired and probably only got a couple hours of sleep. Should the starting times for school be made later? I agree, but there will be some that do not.

Starting school later would allow teens to be able to get more substantial sleep. The National Sleep Foundation states that “teens need 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep each night.” With that being said, I think it is important to note that “⅔ of high school students get less than 7 hours of sleep” and “33% of teenagers report falling asleep in school.” Having later start times would help to improve this issue.

Another reason for later start times is safety. It becomes a serious issue if teens are exhausted while driving to school. The more sleep they get, the better. Robert Vorona, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk VA, “found that in Virginia Beach, where high school classes began at 7:20 a.m., there were 65.4 automobile crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers. In Chesapeake, the high school start time was 8:40 a.m. and “there were only 46.2 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers.” As we can clearly see, the later the school day started, the less number of crashes there were. This would then allow for parents to be less worried about their child driving to school since their child would have gotten more sleep.

Since school would be starting later, there would be an increase in academic performance. In Minneapolis, there was a three-year study conducted by the University of Minnesota where more than 9,000 students were interviewed.

The study “found that later start times boosted attendance, standardized test scores and academic performance in math, English, science and social studies. Students with later starts also consumed less caffeine.”

While some believe, like myself, that starting school later would improve a lot of different things, there’s also another side where people may be against having later start times. According to 5 Pros and Cons of Later School Start Times, it becomes difficult to schedule sports practice and extracurricular activities because the sun will be going down as students are coming out of school and there will be less daytime hours. If there’s less daylight, it makes it harder for the players to be able to see what they’re doing.

Additionally, the later start time will disrupt parents’ schedules. If the school bell rings at 10 a.m., the later start time will disrupt and cause chaos to the whole family. For the students who have no bus service, getting to and from school may be hard.

Lastly, school districts will face administration and operational pressures. A lot of time and preparation is put into school scheduling as it is “a delicate balance of resource allocation. Administrators deploy staggered school times to allocate limited resources and to operate efficiently within their budgets.” If this were to get messed up, there would be a lot of chaos.

In the end, school districts and school officials are the ones that decide what is best for them; but overall, having a later start time would be more beneficial. Talking to somebody in your area and gaining more insight on why schools should start later could be helpful.