With back to school time just around the corner it’s time to look into an issue that’s been plaguing school systems for years – namely, what to do about start times.
As research has shown in recent years, high school aged students would – in theory – benefit from a later start time due to the extra sleep it would afford them. (Whether or not they would actually use the later start time to capitalize on more sleep remains to be seen, but that’s the theory.) Similarly, since younger children need less sleep, starting them earlier in the day would easily solve the problem of “but what about the buses.”
In Providence, Rhode Island, the city has decided that they’re going to give some new start-times a try. Although nothing has been passed yet – and these changes were due to the city’s transportation system rather than seeing how the students are affected – the city is proposing that some of their elementary and high schools undergo schedule changes. They’re proposing that the school week has two “shifts” of school days – “regular” days and “shortened” days. On “regular” days, some of the high schools would begin at 7:50am and release at 2:35pm. The other schools would begin their day at 8:30am and release at 3:15pm. On “shortened” days there would be four staggered start times for the high schools, 7:50am, 8:30am, 9:15am, and 9:55am. Those school days would end between 1:10pm and 3:15pm, depending on the start time.
The elementary school start and end times will remain mostly the same, although on “short” days (which will fall on Fridays, conveniently) the students will be released at 2:11pm – presenting a problem for parents who were already scrambling to get their kids situated for a 3pm release. Since the average workday ends at 5pm, and since elementary school children aren’t old enough to drive themselves home, an even earlier release time – closer to the middle of the work day – could pose a huge problem for parents.
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