Staff Editorial: pushing back bell times detrimental

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These days, it is a common sight to watch hundreds of tired students shuffle into school every morning.  During the winter, the sun hasn’t even fully risen; temperatures are below freezing for most of the school year.  This scenario has lead administrators to question the time at which schools begin teaching and to debate starting school later.  Most students, however, believe that a change to start times would help nobody.

Should there be a start time change at SAHS?

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After years of conversation, administrators sent out an initial inquiry into the opinion of the community on Feb. 2.  This inquiry asked about a hypothetical rescheduling that would start the high school 50 min. later for the sake of student health.  This change, if implemented, would come in the 2019-2020 school year. At the school board meeting on March 8, the board decided not to change school start times for that year and students support the decision.

Right now, most students have schedules that are so packed that they can not afford to start any later.  They wake up early to go to school, but then after school comes work, sports and homework that takes well into the night to complete.  It’s no surprise, then, that waking up the next day is not fun. In general, students miss out an valuable sleep.

However, pushing back the bell an hour won’t help students get more or better sleep.  Sure, the sun would rise with the students, but that hour has to be made up somewhere else, which means cutting deeper into bedtimes.  In fact while many students hate waking up early, they are thankful for the early start so that they have plenty of time after school to meet their daily goals.

Shifting the start time of the high school an hour back will have massive ripples throughout the community.  All bus schedules and start times for the district would have to be adjusted. Sport practices would have to be pushed back.  Students that participate in jobs or club sports would have to change their schedules. Parents would have to find new ways to get their children to school.  If start times would be moved, all of these things and more would have to be addressed or compromised in some way.

Photo by Hailey WiIlius Students with a longer school day would have to take on even more outside of school work. This would mess up sport schedules along with other after school programs.

Many students rely on their jobs to save money for college.  Others rely on sports for relief from their difficult life as students.  Overall, students would gain an hour of sleep, at the cost of possibly losing the things that they need to survive in modern society.  

One thing that many people forget about when considering the start time debate is students who miss school for athletics.  Currently, student athletes and coaches that also teach, regularly miss portions of sixth hour for competitions. If start times were moved back, these students and teachers would be missing a lot more valuable education.

If the school decides to push times back, any health benefits would be negated by this missed school.  Students who missed school would have to make it up later, without instruction from teachers. This would increase anxiety and decrease sleep, opposite the intention of moving the bell time.  Also, teachers that had to leave school to coach would need substitutes, which would not only have to be paid for by the school, but would also hurt non-athletes’ ability to learn.

More sleep can help anxiety, depression, obesity, substance abuse and more.  Ideally, pushing back start times would lead to students getting more sleep.”

— startschoollater.net

The reason many schools have pushed back start times is because research indicates that sleeping more seems to improve student health.  According to startschoollater.net, more sleep can help anxiety, depression, obesity, substance abuse and more.  Ideally, pushing back start times would lead to students getting more sleep.

The issue is, no one would get any more sleep.  Students would, after starting school an hour later, get home an hour later.  This means they will spend one more hour late at night working on homework. Obviously, this change, which has the goal of increasing sleep, would potentially have the opposite effect.

As much as changing the schedule would mess up many students, most would agree that they love their sleep and they would love to get more of it.  Unfortunately, this can’t happen until other action is taken. With school jobs, sports, and homework, a day in the life of a student is just too long.  

If SAHS really wants to push back the start time an hour, first they need to remove an hour of homework from their student’s schedule. This can be done by lowering homework load, which not only has been proved effective in increasing student health and performance, but would also allow school to start an hour later without becoming a nightmare for everyone involved.

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