Does the early bird get the worm?

Aleah Anderson , Staff Writer

Last November, The Rochester Public School Board began considering changing Middle School and High School start times for as early as the fall 2020 semester. RPS proposed two different schedules: one in which classes begin at 8:00 and end at 3:10, and another with a start time of 8:45. Under that scenario the day ended at 3:15. With the 8:45 start option, elementary schools would begin at 8:00 and end at 2:25. 

On a national level, there has been a massive push for later school start times. One instance involves California enacting a state-wide law in stating that the earliest schools are allowed to begin is 8:30 am. The issue that ignited this flame is America’s sleep-deprived students. According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 15% of teens report that they get the recommended 8 ½ hours of sleep that they need. This spells trouble for the American youth; getting less than this amount can harm the ability to focus and learn while increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, unhealthy eating, irritability, and much more. 

Teens naturally fall asleep around 11 due to their circadian rhythm; therefore, many believe that delaying school start times could help many students get the sleep they are lacking. A study done by the University of Minnesota shows that performance and attendance in school improves with later start times.

On the other hand, many argue that the late start would be counterproductive to education because classes would be shortened. Beyond that, athletes would need to be excused from the classes late in the day if they need to travel to an away game. Finally, it may be reasonable to question if school started later, would teens simply go to bed later? The problem of too few hours of sleep would remain.

This national debate is now up close and personal for Rochester students, staff, and parents. It is up to the community to argue for what they believe is best for Rochester, whatever that may be. 

As of now, the district has not made a decision on whether start times should be changed. They have been gathering thoughts from community members through https://my.thoughtexchange.com/scroll/266336174 . While the form is already closed, It is an inside look on others’ thoughts about this issue. The district will both present this feedback and the feedback from the community meeting to a school board meeting in late January.

To see a detailed look of the two proposed schedules for next school year compared to the current schedule, visit https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Lq2W4BkcVi8NojL7nc0UtK1AWO-UhJL5/view 

The health and well-being of students is on the front-line of this discussion. Does starting school early allow students to learn about time management, does it give them time to complete homework before their after-school activities? Is it instead, a flawed logic that robs students of their potential? 

You decide if the early bird really does get the worm.