Will High Schools Have Later Start Times In Two Years?

The Wake County Public School System is currently discussing a possible change in the start times of schools in the county. If this change were to occur, there would be a variety of effects felt by  not only students and teachers but the whole community as well. As this is a big decision that affects more than a hundred thousand students and their families, it is not being taken lightly. If accepted, this plan will not take effect before the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

The biggest reason that the schedule may change is because of the current  early high school start time. Wake County high schools start at 7:25 in the morning while elementary schools in Wake County start at 9:15. There have been many complaints about how early high school students have to not only start learning but even wake up so they can get ready for the day. Many high school students wake up before 6:00 in the morning so they can get themselves ready in time to catch the bus or drive to school. There have been studies done in recent years that show that teenagers actually have a hard time falling asleep before 11:00 PM, which gives students seven hours of sleep, optimistically. Some students have sports, homework, or other factors that may keep them up until midnight or later, giving them much less sleep than they need, which for a teenager is around eight-ten  hours according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Those eight-ten  hours of sleep are important to helping students be able to think properly and stay focused while learning, which is nearly impossible when school starts so early. 

There are definitely both positives and negatives to switching up school start times. High school students would hopefully be able to get more sleep and become more productive in their studies, but the time change can also affect their personal lives outside of school. A later start time means it would also be harder to work after school jobs and get homework done in the afternoon as well as participate in after school activities. Many students would have to change shifts at their work, which is not only an inconvenience to them but also the managers and owners of workplaces. Despite those concerns, students would not have to worry as much about getting to bed earlier or having to wake up as early, which currently leaves students tired and with sometimes incomplete or unsatisfactory homework.

As previously mentioned, the change in schedule would not only affect the students in high schools but also in elementary schools and possibly middle schools as well. If only one other level of school were to be affected, however, it would be the elementary schools. There are a few plans in place for the board to choose from, and one is to switch the start times of elementary and high schools. This is being considered because elementary schoolers have less trouble getting to sleep early and generally have more energy earlier in the day. Another option would be to push back the start times of all schools within a range of thirty minutes to an hour later than they are currently. There is a third option that combines both of the first two where the school board could switch elementary and high schools while also pushing the start times back. The reason the start times would need to be switched instead of all schools starting at the same time is because Wake County does not have the money for extra buses and bus drivers that would be needed to make that change happen. Buses currently have a system where they drop off students in one school at one time and then go back and pick up younger students later.

While nothing is currently set in stone, these are all options being considered by the school board to change the start times of the schools in Wake County. This topic has been raised before, and more information and opinions are still being gathered.  The changes, if any, would likely be put into place for the 2022-2023 school year and would have widespread effects on the community.

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