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Exciting Changes to High School Start Times

Late Start Time

Public schools in Fairfax County will soon be opening later in the day. If you’re not a morning person, this may sound like great news. But there appear to be benefits for all students, even those who are up bright and early with little effort.

The Fairfax County School Board has recently approved a recommendation for starting high schools later – between 8 and 8:10 am – and ending between 2:45 and 2:55 p.m. This change, due to begin in the 2015-2016 school year, will affect more than 57,000 high school students. This decision is the result of years of dialogue between the various stakeholders in the community and the input of Fairfax County residents via online forums.

According to website of Fairfax County Public Schools, fcps.edu, the decision to delay high school start time will actualize many benefits for high school students. Relying on the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, FSPS believes that later start times for high school students would align better with their biological sleep patterns. Corroborating research shows that sleep-deprived adolescents have shortened attention spans, slower reaction time, lower test scores, poorer grades, increased rates of depression, and a higher risk of automobile accidents. By starting high school at a later time, the goal is to allow high school students a chance to complete their natural sleep cycle, rather than showing up to school tired and groggy.

It remains to be seen whether these results will be delivered, but the argument is convincing. Many students are not getting enough sleep — add to that a full schedule and extra-curricular activities — and its no wonder many students are stretched to the brink. Hopefully, Fairfax County’s decision is a step in the right direction.