Board to study altering school start times
SOUTH COVENTRY >> Answering the concerns of some parents and a Chester County-wide study, Owen J. Roberts School District is forming a committee to consider early school start times at the middle and high schools.
Several parents had addressed the board in May to raise the issue of sleep deprivation in teens caused by early school start times. Currently, high school and middle school classes begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 2:15 p.m.
The speakers in May, including three parents, a doctor and one teen, suggested changing to a start time no earlier than 8:30 a.m., based on a 2014 recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Superintendent Michael L. Christian told the school board Monday night that a committee is being formed to study the issue. He said the students who completed a study last year for the Chester County Intermediate Unit will make a presentation at the next board committee-of-the-whole meeting Oct. 10.
Christian said after the meeting that an email went out to parents inviting their participation in the committee. Board members, school staff and members of student government will also participate.
OJR becomes the third district in Chester County to consider altering start times. Unionville-Chadds Ford and Phoenixille Area districts are looking at the logistics of changing start times for the next school year.
Two of the parents who had urged study of the issue before the board in May returned Monday to thank them for initiating the committee. Kathy DiMarino, complimenting the board for agreeing to study the issue, asked that a medical professional be involved in the group.
Several parents had addressed the board in May to raise the issue of sleep deprivation in teens caused by early school start times.
Parent Cheryl Hertzog also thanked the board for taking this step that she said will ensure students “not only survive, but thrive” in high school.
Christian said one option the district may consider is offering more online courses in the high school for students to
schedule in lieu of a first period class.
Earlier this year, the county intermediate unit heard from the student forum composed of representatives from the 12 districts in Chester County. Students spent a year studying the effects of school start times and made a presentation advocating for the later start.
According to the research, fewer than one in five middle and high schools
in the U.S. began the school day at the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time or later during the 2011-2012 school year. Too-early start times can keep students from getting the sleep they need for health, safety and academic success, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.