The Howard County Board of Education has recently confirmed a new start time for HCPSS students during the start of the 2018-2019 school year. The policy states that school will not begin earlier than 8am for high school students. Though the policy is intended to help with student and teacher life matters such as sleep, bus transportation, and extracurriculars, not all students are proponents of the new policy. I think that our school start time is perfect as it is, and should not be changed in the following years.
In recent years, Montgomery County introduced later start times for elementary, middle, and high schools, and not long after, it caused many issues. Due to the schools starting around the same time as morning rush hour (7am-9am), traffic would often cause buses to arrive at schools late. Some elementary school kids experienced stomach aches, while others were reported to act out more due to being more alert and energetic with the extra amount of sleep. The teachers also had to work even later with the lessons they had to prepare and the grading they had to do. With the many issues, the Montgomery County School Board started to look at several new proposals for another change in the time schedule. The newest changes were expected to cost anywhere from $1.3 million to $4 million, which could have been used for education, sports, and clubs if the later start time was never introduced. Howard County could avoid the possibility of a similar situation if they leave the start time alone.
Following our current schedule, which is from 7:25am-2:10pm, a 6 hour and 45 min day, and if we apply that to a possible start time of 8:25, students would get out of school at 3:10. There might not be a huge difference, some students could argue that one more hour of sleep is not totally beneficial and that they would rather have that extra hour after school for activities.
The new start time could give students less time for extracurricular activities after school, such as sports and clubs, and less time for socializing with friends. This can lead to students coming home later than usual, having no time for school assignments like homework, projects, and papers, which could decrease academic performance, on which the policy was meant to help in the first place.
On the other hand, according to a study conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a teenager between the ages of 13-18 needs an average of 9 ½ hours of sleep each night in order to be well rested and perform at maximum potential. The later start time gives students and teachers more time for sleep and leads to a more well rested and interactive day, which would lead to a more interactive classroom. With our current schedule, a student would have to go to sleep around 9pm-10pm in order to get 9 ½ hours of sleep, which is probably not the case for most students, but it is not an unreasonable time for students to go to sleep. Students already have enough things to do throughout the day that tire them out so going to bed earlier should not be a major problem.
Even though students are given a later start time the opportunity for more sleep does not necessarily mean that students will use it wisely. Since students are given an extra hour in the morning, this means that they will probably use that opportunity to go to bed later, risking their overall rest. The study conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital also provides some ways for teens to get enough sleep such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding sleeping too much on the weekends, and taking a 15-20 min nap in the afternoon, and many other ways. A student could take one of these methods into account and see a difference in their overall rest and energy. After all, what do you need the extra hour for?