November 1 2016
Letter to the Editor: School Committee Should Move on Later Start Time at High School
At a recent School Committee meeting, the committee discussed the possibility of a later school start time for Burlington High School.I applaud the School Committee for taking on this important issue.
The research on teen sleep patterns is clear and unopposed. Teenagers need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep nightly, and most get 7 hours or less. One reason for this sleep deprivation is that teen brains are programmed to go to sleep later; many teens are physically incapable of falling asleep earlier. Similarly, the teen brain is programmed to awaken later, which encumbers a student’s ability to function at full capacity when forced to rise earlier than is ideal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start class no earlier than 8:30 a.m..
I am pleased that our School Committee for tackling this problem head on. I recognize that implementing a new, later start time is logistically challenging. Still, I urge the School Committee to proceed with all due haste, with the goal of implementing changes in time for the 2017-18 school year.
At the School Committee meeting, one member mentioned that the bus contract and the teachers contract must both be renegotiated this year, so it seems especially timely to work on implementing changes to the schedule this year.
The research is clear and the benefits to students are as well. Burlington School system has long been touted as a leader in our State. Now we must step forward again to lead by implementing a schedule that respects the needs of our teenaged learners.