For example, after a Colorado district delayed start times in 2017 for middle school by 50 minutes, 8 a.m. to 8:50, and for high school by 70 minutes, 7:10 a.m. to 8:20, students reported getting more sleep. Scores on a measure of academic engagement increased.
Such findings, duplicated in many studies, led California to pass a law in 2019, due to go into effect in 2022, requiring classes for high schools begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a policy statement urging first bells at 8:30 or later, saying the adolescent sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty. The pediatricians said chronic sleep loss in adolescents is a common and easily fixable public health issues.
I have written a lot about this first bell debate and always hear from older readers contending today’s teens are too soft and need to learn to get up early to succeed in the real-world. However, that rationale deflated as flextime and remote working became more common in the real world. The argument is irrelevant now with the pandemic dramatically altering how, where and when Americans work.
Among the comments on the petition:
--Early start times for middle/high school students are not effective. Find more creative methods to address the needs of students who've fallen behind. Adding 30 minutes to the elementary school day seems like an easy fix for administrators but will likely do nothing positive for students or families.
--This new start time will impact many working families disproportionately. As a parent with 3 children in 3 different APS schools this fall, I am already challenged with transportation. This new start time schedule is not going to help.
--You will kill the momentum of the high schools with this move.
--Asking sleepy children to walk, bike or wait for the bus an hour before sunrise is dangerous.
Some Gwinnett parents pointed out to me that most of their high schools start between 7 and 7:25 a.m. and it works for them, including getting their high schoolers home earlier from sports practices and other after-school activities. Check out Gwinnett’s starting times here.