Local high schools look to push back start times

Nick Guimond, Staff Writer

Here at BPHS, the first bell can ring at 7:15 a.m. But what if that bell rang at 8:30 a.m.? No need to say that this would probably be welcomed by many students.

It turns out that some schools in the Pittsburgh area– North Allegheny, Hampton, and Fox Chapel– are considering moving to later start times.

The true reason for this push back is recent scientific data related to teen sleep studies from the CDC. The CDC recommends that middle and high schools should start at 8:30 a.m., allowing students to get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep.

According to Jessica Levenson, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, teens desire sleeping late because of the body’s circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms are delayed during teenage years, which causes younger people going through puberty to naturally desire to go to sleep later and to wake up later as well.

Back in 2014, The American Academy of Pediatrics actually urged middle and high schools to start no later than 8:30 a.m.; this was said to help allow teens attending middle and high school get into healthy sleeping patterns.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement found another benefit of later start times — a correlation to increased academic performance for high school students. This makes the school look better and gives students more opportunity to succeed academically.

Now, this could cause problems logistically and budget-wise. But, if thought out well enough and handled well, it could certainly be done. After all, the positives of this idea are well worth it, especially if it means our school could improve students’ ability to learn.