By: Aiden Coleman
Howard County Public Schools has recently announced its plans for adjusted start times for all high schools in the county, moving from the current 7:25am start to a new time between 8:00am-8:30am.
The change, set to begin with the 2023-2024 school year, will not only mean a later start to students’ mornings, but later starts to their evenings and free time as well.
With the current start times, students go to bed late and wake up early, getting far less than the advised amount of sleep. Many students may not fully wake up until an hour or two after arriving at school, at which point they’ve “missed” the first three classes of the day.
The new start times aim to remove this problem by allowing students to sleep later, helping them get the recommended amount of sleep, and possibly increasing their attention span during the first few periods of the day.
For students like freshman Andrew Patrone who struggle waking up early, the later start time is a benefit.
“I’ve always had trouble falling asleep early, and have even more trouble trying to wake up while it’s still dark out,” he said. “I know tons of friends who constantly fall asleep in class and feel their mental health has been negatively affected by the current schedule. For me and all my friends, a later school start time is awesome, because it’s going to improve student health with little drawbacks.”
But how much sleep will students really gain?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teenagers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to perform poorly in school. Its website maintains that “adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning as a result in shifts in biological rhythms… During the school week, school start times are the main reason students wake up when they do. The combination of late bedtimes and early school start times results in most adolescents not getting enough sleep. With current students losing sleep due to the early start times, later start times will allow these students to get more healthy amounts of sleep.”
However, for those who are involved in after-school activities, the proposed change may have an unintended effect.
“I don’t see the point of the change,” said junior Mack Leach, who competes in cheer and track and field. “I won’t have as much time for after school activities, and won’t get home until later because of sports.”
For students who have no extracurricular activities, this change may do some good, and allow them to get a more healthy amount of sleep. But for students who stay after or have other commitments, this change won’t do much apart from shifting their daily schedule backwards an hour.
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, “the school board voted in February to begin studying how to adjust school start times later for the 2023-24 school year. As of now, the final school start times are scheduled to be presented to the board in December, with bus routes finalized in spring 2023.”