School should start at a later time

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Staff Editorial

As a high school student, one of our most common topics of conversation is not getting enough sleep at night. A significant factor that contributes to this problem is the start time of school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that high schools start after 8:30 a.m. Seeing as this is just a recommendation, it is seldom followed. According to the CDC, over 93% of high schools start before 8:30 a.m., each with a wide variety of start times all across America. School start time is instrumental in the success of the student body, and in order to maximize that success, Harrisonburg High School needs to start later.

First, adolescents between the age of 13 and 18 need eight to ten hours of sleep per night. Naturally, the solution to this is for them to go to bed earlier. However, according to the Sleep Foundation, adolescents have an internal clock that affects their sleep schedule drastically compared to adults. Following their biology, adolescents typically have a later bedtime. The natural, biological bedtime of an adolescent should be 11 p.m., which coincides with a later wake up time. However, when teenagers naturally fall asleep at 11 p.m. and need about nine hours of sleep, their sleep schedule is disrupted by the early school start time. Another factor that makes students sleep later is because of an excessive workload of homework. According to Statistic Brain, students should only do 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night. However, on average, high school students do over three hours of homework per night, which affects their bedtime. Students’ sleep schedules are extremely affected by their stress and workload since high school is as competitive as it is. Overall, teenagers need more sleep than adults expect, and that starts by fixing the main problems like stress and students’ workloads. 

Sleep drastically affects a student’s role in the classroom. According to Stanford University, not getting enough sleep can diminish a student’s mental health, safety and school success. Stanford found that students generally do poorly through the pressure of keeping up with their health and school work. It causes grades to start to slip as students don’t finish their homework to try and get a decent amount of sleep. Not only that, but it has been proven that teenagers not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of depression and suicide. Finally, if students don’t get enough sleep at home, then they will start to take that time to sleep at school. This is unfair to teachers who are dedicating their time to teach students who won’t process any of their information and that isn’t because students are being lazy or because teachers aren’t good at teaching, it’s because students cannot process anything if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep. 

In Harrisonburg High School’s current state, there are two solutions that can be considered. The first would be to make school start later. School can start at 8:30 a.m. or later so students can make sure to get here on time and make sure they are well rested for a day of learning. While one problem with this may be how buses would deliver HCPS students to all their schools if HHS starts later, the solution is simple: make the other schools start later as well. It is recommended for middle schools to also start past 8:30 a.m. to help with middle school students and their developing bodies. Another potential solution would be making ELT optional. While that would also require teachers to be here early and wait for students, it could be a potential solution. ELT ends around 8:30, the time that it is recommended for schools to start. Students can come into ELT if they need to, but attendance will truly be taken when 8:30 comes for the first period. Students already sleep during ELT, the school might as well let them sleep at home to get here on time.

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