Change in start time a good thing

Too bad they have to wait a year, but starting in September 2020, students in Amherst middle and high school will be able to get a bit more sleep in the morning because school officials there finally decided to make start times later.

We say “finally decided” because we can’t for the life of us understand why they waited, and why Milford is still in the process of studying the issue. And where are the rest of the towns in our area, and the rest of New Hampshire?

Portsmouth made the change recently and it was reported in the Portsmouth Herald that “the impetus for the change is to align the school start times with sleep science that suggests adolescents shift their sleep times during adolescence and naturally stay up later and sleep in later.

“At a school board forum on the topic in April, Erin Hiley Sharp, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of New Hampshire called it ‘sleep phasing.’

“‘Asking a teen to go bed at 10 p.m. is like asking an adult to go to bed at 7 or 8 p.m. That’s where the brain is in the sleep cycle,’ Hiley Sharp said. ‘Waking a teen at 7 a.m. is biologically similar as waking up an adult at 4 a.m.'”

And it’s not as if that has been a secret. Still, the refusal of school districts to take sensible steps continues.

There is this from the Detroit News:

“Yet an overwhelming majority of public schools across the nation expect teens to be in high school classrooms before dawn. In Michigan, start times typically range between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. when it is still dark much of the year.”

Something similar could be said about many New Hampshire communities, where kids wait for school buses in the dark.

One of the arguments against starting schools later and, naturally, letting kids out later is that it would mess up sports schedules, as if school officials and the NHIAA aren’t clever enough to figure a way around that.

School should be about learning and anything that can help kids learn better is to be cheered. Changing the hours of the school day is one such thing.

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