LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) — Lower Merion School District officials have proposed pushing back school start times at all district middle schools and high schools. The proposal came in a letter to the community from Superintendent Robert Copeland.
Copeland states that after reviewing several studies and recommendations from health officials, the district is recommending pushing high school start time back from 7:30 a.m. to 8:25; the start of the day at middle schools would pushed be from 8:15 a.m. to 9:05 a.m.; and elementary schools would begin at 7:45 a.m.
In the letter, Copeland mentions studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control, which found that adolescents should not begin school before 8:30 a.m.
Health officials say teens’ circadian rhythms shift so that they get tired later in the day and typically wake up later than younger children or adults.
Copeland sites teachers’ observations that middle and high school students appear tired and less energetic in morning classes, as well as nearly two-thirds of students saying they do not get at least eight hours of sleep on school nights.
The district’s recommendation is now before the Board of School Directors. However, Copeland says the later start times could disrupt after-school sports and activities, childcare plans and much more.
For that reason, the school board is hosting four Community Listening Sessions in December to gauge the community’s support for the potential change.
If all goes well, the board is planning a vote for the spring of 2020 on whether to implement the new start times.