Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep per night, according to the Mayo Clinic. With Howard County high schools starting at 7:25 a.m., how likely is it that students are arriving to school well rested, healthy and prepared for the day ahead?
In a statement released this week, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) announced it will be taking a “comprehensive look at the opening time of schools and the impact that an early opening has on the health and well-being of high school students."
It’s a topic that has been on the agendas of school boards from California to Wisconsin and throughout Maryland.
In Howard County, Superintendent Renee Foose said the topic emerged as a concern during forums she held last fall.
For Howard County students, high school begins at 7:25 a.m. Middle school start times range from 7:40 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. and elementary school start times range from 8:15 a.m. to 9:25 a.m.
“Students and parents alike inquired about the continued rationale for starting high schools earliest and elementary schools later,” Foose said in the statement. “From a practical stand point, I heard that the high school start time is contributing to sleepy adolescents and the elementary start times often cause daycare issues for parents.”
Foose said the study will also look at the impact of any potential schedule changes on collective bargaining agreements, after school activities, transportation, and the HCPSS operating budget.
School Board Member Janet Siddiqui advocated for a study looking at the relationship between school start times, sleep habits and student achievement. “Students must come to school well-rested if they are going to be ready for learning,” she said in the statement.
The study will be conducted by HCPSS staff, according to a spokesperson.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports “sleep-related education, research and advocacy,” according to its mission statement, students are “unable to maximize the learning opportunities afforded to them by the education system, since sleep deprivation impairs their ability to be alert, pay attention solve problems, cope with stress and retain information.”
Ellicott City Patch readers last year had their say on the matter – some suggesting that a later start time would interfere with sports schedules, others or that staggering schedules might mean some schools let out close to rush hour.
What do you think? Should high schools start later in the day to accommodate teenagers’ natural sleep cycles? Tell us in the comments.
- How Early is Too Early to Head to Class?
- POLL: Should Howard County Schools Start Later?