By: Mofoluke Obiri –
Starting school before the sun comes up is an issue that has been debated on all around the country. In a national survey on the sleep patterns of U.S. adolescents, 28% of high school students fall asleep in school, 22% fall asleep doing homework, and 14% arrive late or miss school because they oversleep.
Seton-La Salle health teacher MaryBeth Heinz says, “Kids would be more successful if school started later because their internal clocks don’t start until later in the day.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that schools start after 8:30 a.m., because its better for mental and physical health of the students.
The University of Minnesota conducted a study on the Minneapolis public school district which pushed back the time school from 7:15 a.m. to 8:40 a.m.. Starting school later brought benefits such as: increased attendance, less self-deported depression, and fewer students sleeping in class.
Many argue that they should go to bed earlier, but studies have shown that puberty “biologically wires” adolescents to stay up later. As more and more students begin to participate in sports and afterschool activities, the number of hours they sleep drops drastically.
Only about 20% of American teenagers get the recommended 9 hours of sleep per night. Later start times would allow them to get the sleep they need. However, pushing back the time school starts can cause a lot of problems.
Freshman Cassidy Trautman says, “Sometimes I like how school starts at 7:50 a.m. because then you get out earlier.”
If school started later, closure times would also be pushed back later in the day. Many students think that starting school later would mean a shorter school day, however, the amount of time spent in school would not change. Student in grades 4 through 12 in the U.S. must be in school for at LEAST 6 hours a school day.
Many working parents with young children who drop their kids at school would have to change their working schedule or find another ride for them. They would not only have to figure out transportation in the morning but they also have to figure out transportation for after school.
The later school starts, the later school ends. Senior Ore Obiri starts school at 7:15 am. She likes it because they get out of school early, which leaves time for her after school job. Starting school later would have to mean giving up her job. Many, like her, work, play sports, and participate in activities after school. Closing school later would disrupt the timing of these activities and kids would end up staying up later than before.
Whether or not starting school later would help or hurt students more is a question that will never have a complete answer.