Later start times begin for many Seattle students

Wednesday marks the first day of school for Seattle Public Schools students and it's also the first day for later start times.

SEATTLE - A new school year always brings changes for students, but when classes get underway Wednesday for Seattle Public Schools kids, many of them will have new start times.

The change comes after the school board approved later start times last year. All the public high schools in the district will now get underway at 8:45.

“For years high schools started later than elementary school despite the fact that teenagers go to sleep later, and get up later, so school times were not aligned with sleep times for teenagers,” Seattle Children’s Maida Chen said. “So in recent years, a lot of schools have moved, and now Seattle included will be going to this this fall, where teenagers and tweens with have later start times. And the younger kids in elementary school who traditionally go to sleep a little bit earlier, and get up a little bit earlier, have earlier start times.”

Chen said this decision will have plenty of benefits.

“We know that academic progress improves quite a bit, in that their grades are better, their attendance is better, they have less absences. We suspect that behavior gets better as well, in terms of having fewer conflicts with peers, teachers, and parents,” Chen said.

Many younger students may have an earlier start time due to the change. Most middle school students and a few k-8 kids will also begin at 8:45. The others will either begin at 7:45 or 9:35.

Critics say that if school starts later for teens, then they’ll just go to sleep later. Leaders involved with the decision disagree.

“What we’ve learned though across the country is that when we start school a little bit later for the teenagers, they actually go to sleep at the same time, if not even a little bit earlier. And what happens is they sleep in an extra hour and everything actually improves with that extra hour of sleep,” Chen added. “The Seattle Public School District, along with a lot of community partners, and a lot of scientific partners, we did a lot of research going into this and we spoke with a lot of people prior to making this decision, it was not a decision that was not taken lightly.”

Copyright 2016 KING


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