Falling Asleep in Class? The Board of Ed May Change That for You.

+These+students+are+falling+asleep+in+class+because+they+woke+up+so+early.+
 These students are falling asleep in class because they woke up so early.

These students are falling asleep in class because they woke up so early.

Lily Braidich

Lily Braidich

These students are falling asleep in class because they woke up so early.

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Do you wish you had more sleep every morning? The West Hartford Board of Ed might be changing that for future teens. Researchers are looking into delaying school start times due to the benefits it could bring High School students.

Lily Braidich
You could potentially set your alarms for a later time.

Back in the 2016-17 school year, the West Hartford Public Schools system created the Rethinking School Start Times Committee. This committee was formed to measure the pros and cons of this change, and the impact it would have on existing systems. A survey was shared with nearly 16,000 people town wide to get the opinions of different students and parents.

 

These are the possible options for new schedule changes:

 

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 (only affects Wednesdays)
High School One hour delay:

8:30 am to 3:15 pm

45 minute delay:

8:15 am – 3:00 pm

Delay Wednesday start time by 2h15m: 9:45 am-3:05 pm
Middle School No change

(8 am – 2:50 pm)

20 minutes earlier: 7:40 am – 2:30 pm Delay Wednesday start time by 2h15m: 10:15 am-3:45 pm
Elementary School 25 minute delay:

9 am – 3:50 pm

5-10 minute delay:

8:40 am – 3:25 pm or

8:45 am – 3:30 pm

No Wednesday change (8:35 am to 2 pm)

 

The Advantages Of Changing Start Times

 

The advantages of changing school start times are considerable, and the hundreds of supporters within West Hartford have similar feelings. Matthew Keeley, a senior at Hall High School, says “later school times would be beneficial to student’s behavioral, emotional, and overall mental health because, personally, when I get six hours versus eight hours of sleep, the quality of my day is significantly different.” Matthew is not alone, Avery Glagovich, another student at Hall, supports later start times because he “can’t fall asleep before 10:30 regardless” and usually gets 7 hours of sleep. By pushing back start times for district high schools by at least 45 minutes, it would improve these student’s quality of education and ability to learn.

 

A teacher at Conard High School noted that after PSAT and SAT testing hours, when students are permitted to sleep in and arrive later to school, they are significantly happier than if they would arrive at 7:30 AM. “They pay more attention on those days or when there’s a snow delay,” Bacon said. “I think it’s the best thing for the students.” David Chen another member of the student body is in support of change. He says “with current start times there is a greater risk of driving accidents” due to Ice and lack of light in the winter.” In the winter it can be dark out until as late as 7:30 AM.

 

If student input isn’t enough reason, “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teenagers aged 13 to 18 years should regularly sleep 8 to 10 hours per day for good health. Adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight, not engage in daily physical activity, suffer from symptoms of depression, engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, and using illicit drugs, and perform poorly in school. (CDC)” Students who get insufficient sleep are also more likely to be involved in careless decision making. Studies suggest that students who consistently get 7 or less hours of sleep per night are more likely to have unprotected sex, get into physical fights, or bully peers. This poor decision making is caused by a lack of self control due to unhealthy sleeping habits.

 

The Disadvantages Of Changing Start Times

 

Despite the advantages to making this change, there are a lot of disadvantages that need to be looked upon. One of the biggest issues that this decision could impact would be the athletic department. According to the Hartford Courant, the Board of Ed estimates an increase of $94,000 for transportation since it will interfere with private school schedules. Senior Jason Hoopes agrees; “It would be nice but it would force the whole state to change start times or else sports teams would be on different schedules, so it would be difficult to organize games.” Not only will this affect Hall and Conard, but it impacts the 31 other schools that belong to the Central Connecticut Conference (which Hall and Conard are apart of) in relation to sporting events.

 

The delay in start times would make athletes fall behind since they would most likely have to leave school early to make games and practices. Constantly getting pulled out of class can make the school day even more stressful for students than it already is. Between Hall and Conard, there are more than 1,600 students who participate in sports, in which 290 of those do three or more. Take Holly D’Addario, for instance, who has been a teacher in the district for 15 years, along with coaching field hockey and softball. According to the Hartford Courant, she states; “…I would be leaving and not teaching my eighth period class, sometimes part of my seventh period class…My athletes on my softball team are now being pulled out of their eighth period or part of their seventh period class, again… that means they’re still responsible for that material. … So how are they going to get that learning on their own if they don’t necessarily have the time to be going and meeting with their teachers?”

 

The athletic department is not the only thing affected though. People often forget how much this can impact people other than high schoolers. During the colder months, the average sunset time is at or before 4:30, therefore resulting in less sunlight in the afternoon. This affects younger kids who walk home from school on a daily basis, since it could get darker sooner. This raises concerns for parents since they will not feel comfortable with their young children walking in the dark. Students who work after school would be affected as well because if they go into work later, they get out of work later, which would result in starting homework later, which then leads to going to bed later.

Delaying school start times has a plethora of advantages, many of which relate to positive student performance. But there are two sides to every story, the other side being the impact on student transportation, and student athletics. The verdict of the earlier school start time proposal will affect thousands of West Hartford families and their daily routines, and hopefully for the better.

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