School Start Times

Delaney Taylor, Author

A student at Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham, MA may get up around 5:30 or 6:00 A.M. for school, which starts at around 7:30. This is not a problem for some students, but for the students playing sports, taking honors courses and working a part time job, this responsibility is quite a challenge. 

Amy Dubovick, a guidance counselor at Oakmont Regional High School, stated that, “High schoolers need 9-10 hours of sleep per night. I’ve read a lot of research on starting school even just 45 minutes to an hour later, and I feel as if it has a lot of benefits.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night. The website also states that most teenage bodies do not naturally fall asleep until around 11:00 P.M. If a teenager can not fall asleep until 11:00, and they should get 8-10 hours of sleep then they shouldn’t be waking up until 7 or 9 A.M. 

The school nurse at Oakmont Regional High School, Susan Lofquist, stated that, “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that middle and high school students start school at 8:30 A.M. or after.”

It is kind of crazy that The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that schools should start at 8:30 A.M. at the earliest, yet a study conducted on the 2011-2012 school year proved that 76% of middle and high schools in The United States of America started before 8:30 A.M.

David Uminski, principal of Oakmont Regional High School, said, “I think all the research that’s been done on adolescents and their sleep schedules indicates that biologically adolescents are on a different sleep schedule than young children and adults.”

Balancing sports, hanging out with friends and family, staying healthy and doing schoolwork is very difficult. This is even more difficult when you aren’t getting the correct amount of sleep required for your age. 

“I do think that a lot of students are very busy between after school activities, sports, work, and caring for younger siblings. Then homework starts later, so it gets pushed causing students to go to sleep later,” reasons Mrs. Dubovick.

Mrs. Lofquist also added, “Students do need to get the 8-10 hours of sleep, and just because we start later does not mean they will necessarily get the sleep required.”

“One of the reasons we have the schedule we have is because of our athletic programs and after-school activities,” mentioned Uminski. If school was ending later, then after school clubs and sporting events would end later. This is a good and bad thing. The positive thing about having later activities and sporting events is that parents who work will be able to come support their kid(s). The downside is that homework will be started later, causing students to stay up later. 

Another point that websites have proven is that a typical work day is from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and a lot of parents don’t get out of work until 5. This makes it hard for students without their licenses to get a ride home from after school activities. If a practice or a meeting gets out at 3:30 P.M. chances are working parents are not going to be able to pick up their children.

For students who have their driver’s licenses this is a different story. Most of these students are working an after school job, and a later start time may impact their work schedules. In a survey conducted by Oakmont Regional High School around five years ago, students seemed to express concern about how a later start time may impact their ability to work, stated Mr. Uminski. 

Another piece that research has shown is that implicating a later start time will decrease tardiness and absences, says Dubovick. When students have more time to get out of the door in the morning they are more likely to be on time for school. 

One huge reason why Oakmont Regional High School has not pushed back their start time is because of the bus schedules. In this school district the busses pick up the middle and high schoolers, drop them off, and then pick up the elementary schoolers. If the start time of the middle and high school got pushed back, the bus routes would become far more complicated and most likely arise in an issue. 

All in all, the research shows that a later start time will benefit students in both a psychological and physical way. Staff at Oakmont Regional High School also agree that the start time of school is something that should be looked at closely, possibly resulting in a change.