Individual school start and dismissal times have been posted to www.aacps.org/2223schoolhours. While change is often stressful, our students will benefit from school start times that match their development. The change in start times is not predicted to exacerbate either the ongoing bus driver shortage or the existing bus capacity issues.
Although this change might feel sudden to some, I must remind you that this topic has been debated at length by the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County for the last two decades. Countless testimony has been heard, surveys have been conducted, a task force was convened, research was consulted, and hours of debate have occurred.
Amongst the more recent research, a U.S. News & World report published April 15, 2021, referenced a HealthDay News study of 28,000 elementary, middle, and high school students and parents both before and after new start times were implemented. In the study, middle schools pushed their start times back by 40 to 60 minutes, and high schools began the day 70 minutes later. Meanwhile, elementary schools started 60 minutes earlier. Both middle and high school students and parents reported reduced sleepiness in class. There was no effect on elementary school students. Sleep was found to be a key factor in students' overall health, social development and school performance.
The authors said the new study offers the strongest evidence to date that moving elementary school start times to 8:00am has no negative effect on students. “As students return to in-person learning, it is important for school officials to consider healthy start times for all youngsters,” they said.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of experts who support healthy school start times:
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry supported the American Academy of Pediatrics call to start middle and high schools no earlier than 8:30am (September 2, 2014).
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30am for the sake of sleep, health and learning (August 25, 2014).
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) called on communities, school boards, and educational institutions to implement start times of 8:30am or later for middle schools and high schools to ensure that every student arrives at school healthy, awake, alert and ready to learn (April 2017).
- American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) strongly recommends that school start times for middle and high school students be delayed to 8:30am or later to adequately accommodate student sleep requirements (June 2019).
- American Medical Association (AMA) encourages middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30am for adolescent wellness (June 14, 2016).
- American Psychological Association - "While implementation may be complex, particularly when a change would bring a school’s schedule out of sync with neighboring systems, delaying school start times so that adolescents begin their instructional day later provides numerous benefits to the students and their broader community alike" (2014).
- American Sleep Association stated that middle school and high school should not start before 8:00am. A time closer to 9:00am or later would be preferable (February 7, 2016).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that middle and high schools push back start times to 8:30am or later (August 6, 2015).
- National Association of School Nurses/Society of Pediatric Nurses offered a consensus statement on early school start times in October 2016, supporting delaying school start times for middle school and high school students.
- Society of Behavioral Medicine issued a position statement urging middle and high schools to start classes no earlier than 8:30am (November 2017).
- National Education Association passed a resolution, C-5 (Adequate Rest), supporting school schedules that follow research-based recommendations regarding the sleep patterns of age groups.
- National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) passed a resolution encouraging middle and high schools to start classes at times that allow for healthy sleep (June 22, 2017).
Community forums will be held to further explain the changes that will occur. Dates and times of those forums will be released soon. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-534-2660.