Later school start might not actually benefit students

You may have seen the emails on Twitter begging FCPS to delay school start times, with gripes about sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm.  And despite the lack of recent news on the subject, the FCPS School Board has recently met to discuss the issue of later school times.

While some may rejoice at the idea of starting school later, I see little value.  As a full IB diploma candidate, tri-sport athlete and a member of the newspaper staff, there are many nights where I do not get home until six or seven p.m.

Arriving home exhausted, I have to start on the hours of homework that come with junior year.  While I  support students getting more sleep, shifting start times will only push everyone’s schedules back.  I am lucky enough to have all of my extracurriculars in direct succession to each other, but for others who will have to factor in travel time from home to school and interrupting their homework, losing more of the evening and afternoon time could be incredibly stressful.

We already have a practice slot that ends at nine o’clock in the evening; is it really reasonable to expect students to stay even later?  Sure, now they can wake up slightly later, but they will also have to stay up unspeakably late working, creating the same amount of sleep deprivation.

New research from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that teens experience a change to their circadian rhythm than makes it difficult to fall asleep before 11 p.m.  This discovery suggests that schools would need to start later than eight a.m. to accommodate the recommended nine-and-a-quarter to eight-and-a-half hours of sleep.

According to a study by the Journal of School Health, more than 90% of teens get less than nine hours of sleep.  But if school times were moved later, what are the chances that students would actually get more sleep?

Students would get home much later, making it less likely, especially for student athletes and those with extracurricular activities, that they would finish their homework and be able to go to sleep by 11.

Perhaps instead of looking to change school start times, the school board should consider shortening school hours to make classes more efficient.  Leaving more time for us to our homework and extracurriculars seems more constructive than an simple schedule shift.