Back to school, back to sleep? Schools reevaluate early start times
Recognizing the unique biorhythms of adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement recommending middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to allow teens to have sufficient hours for sleep.
In response, many school districts have reevaluated their starting times. Some school districts – most recently, the Seattle Public Schools – have delayed middle and high school start times until 8:45 a.m., to mixed reaction. Typically, bus routes and after-school activity schedules needed significant changes to accommodate the change in start time. In some instances, elementary schools were moved to early start times, creating child care or transportation challenges for families.
A 2015 NPCH Report asked parents of teenagers 13-17 about the impact of later school start times for teens. Half of parents with teens whose schools currently start before 8:30 a.m. said they would support a school start time of 8:30 or later. 40% of parents believed their teens would get more sleep with a later school start, and nearly a quarter felt it would improve their teen’s academic performance. But 22% of parents worried that a later start time would interfere with after school activities.