Are Later School Start Times Finally Here?

As of right now, if the change is officially approved, pre-kindergarteners through fifth
graders will begin school at 8:00 in the morning, while grades 6-12 will start forty five
minutes later than current times, at 8:30.

Over 900 Winchester parents with children at McCall or WHS responded to the school start
time survey, which was distributed during the fall of 2017. 1160 students submitted feedback
as well. According to survey results, the majority of parents, nearly sixty percent, agree that
students should be getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night, while almost a quarter argue
that they need a minimum of nine. Contrarily, most parents responded that their children only
get seven to eight hours of sleep, with a quarter responding six or seven. A sizable portion,
approximately twenty eight percent, did report their children receiving eight to nine hours.
However, the survey combined parents of middle and high schoolers, so this data might be
referring students in the lower grades of six to eight, rather than the busier high schoolers
with larger homework loads.

In the student survey, many results were impacted by great variability, but there were a
handful of questions with overwhelmingly similar answers. Over seventy percent of students
reported waking up for school between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning. Almost twenty percent
said they’re awake for school before 6:00. On the other hand, around 42 percent of students
reported waking up after 9:00 on weekends. A mere eight percent reported rising before
7:00 AM on weekends. Perhaps the most illuminating, but likely unsurprising, result was the
response to a simple yes or no question. More than three quarters of students (out of 1160)
declared that they do not feel “well-rested and alert at school when you arrive at school in the
morning” and believe that the school start time is too early.

Some students have had their misgivings about this schedule change. After school activities,
like sports and clubs, will begin later in the day. Additionally, students will be up later at
night due to the “loss” of an around an hour in the morning. However, the school start times
are not necessarily aimed to increase or even change the number of hours of sleep that
students are receiving; they are designed to align more readily with adolescent sleep patterns.
Most teens tend to stay up late and sleep in, and this new plan would more accurately resemble
that model. The National Sleep Association also notes that most teens have irregular
patterns that are resulting from the difference in sleep routines during the school week
versus the weekends. By sleeping in several more hours than usual on weekend days, the
students’ quality of sleep and biological clocks are being negatively impacted. With later
start times, this would become a less serious issue. Additionally, students are likely to be
more productive and efficient with these better-suited start times and may spend less time
on homework/studying, as they will be more alert and focused when doing so.