Time for a change

School begins too early for students and faculty members

Claudia Huggins, Managing Editor

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The time that school begins for students and faculty in the mornings is a debate that has been controversial for years now. However, little has ever been done to solve this problem. Even many school officials would publicly agree that starting school at a later time would improve the productivity and motivation of the students, however again, it is a rarity for schools to begin after 8:30 a.m.

The human brain doesn’t start working to its full ability until 10 a.m.; however, many classes begin and end before then. At Freedom’s middle and high schools, the first class begins at 7:50 a.m. and ends at 9:10 a.m.

“I usually get around four to six hours of sleep each night. Just the other night, I was up until 1 a.m. doing homework and studying for tests,” junior Olivia Wolf explained.

She isn’t alone. 69 percent of students report getting less than eight hours of sleep each night, usually ranging between only six or seven hours.

Lack of sleep over time can take a toll on the body physically, but mentally as well. Lack of sleep has been known to increase stress hormones in the brain and create a higher risk for depression.

In fact, right here in Pittsburgh there is a school that has adopted the later start time. Pittsburgh Milliones, University Preparatory School changed the hours for their high school students from 7:42 a.m. to 8:38 a.m. at the start of their 2016-17 school year. The school’s attendance rate went from 81 percent to 84 percent, as well as the chronic absent rate dropping by 10 percent.

Another school in Pennsylvania that has found incredible results for a later school start time is Solebury School in New Hope. The district changed their 8 a.m. start to an 8:30 a.m. start for four days out of the week. On Wednesdays, the first bell doesn’t ring until 9 a.m.

The district issued a survey after the switch that showed a large amount of support from students, faculty and parents. Parents reported a less hectic morning and students have been more awake for their morning classes.

So, if starting school an hour later sounds like such a great idea, why don’t more schools do it? For starters, it could throw off schedules for student-athletes. The times of practices would have to change a bit and students would still have to get out of class, however with a little maneuvering of the classes throughout the day, this problem ceases to exist.

For example, if Freedom were to change the start time from 7:50 a.m. to 8:50 a.m., this creates one less hour. However, shortening each 80 minute class to 65 minutes, plus a 30 minute lunch and 30 minutes for PLT, the school day would still be able to end at 2:30 p.m., giving athletes the same amount of time they have now.

Changing the start time of school would take thought and some moving around, but when it comes to getting the best out of your day, whether you’re a student or a faculty member, it’s a proven plus.