In the hours leading up to his arrival at Upper Darby High School, Elder Khalid Doulat finds time to pray, help his mother, or prepare for track training.
It’s a welcome change from last year for him and thousands of students at the school, you delayed the start time over two hours – from 7:30 to 9:45 One of the goals of the change: to ease tensions on students who have been more visible than ever coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To be honest, I feel much happier in the morning,” Doulat says. “Touch more positive and come to school smiling instead of begrudgingly getting out of bed and stuff at 7:30.”
It’s not just for sleeping anymore
The idea of delaying the start time at school, promoted by many over the years as a way to help teenagers get more sleepreceives a new look as a way of approaching the mental health crisis affecting adolescents in the United States.
For some schools, the pandemic has allowed them to experiment with new timetables. Upper Darby, for example, initially considered later start times in 2019. Finally found a way to do so this year using distance learning as part of the school day.
When students first returned to face-to-face learning, many have dealt with mental health issues and behavioral issues, Upper Darby Superintendent Daniel McGarry said. Officials have seen a break in students in terms of respect the authority of teachers in the classroom.
“We’ve had a lot of those situations that we’ve been dealing with and we’re still working, we’re in a much better position,” said McGarry. “I think our kids are feeling better. They are not 100% better.” But, he said, much of social anxiety that the students felt after being in the virtual school has dissipated.
During the pandemic, large numbers of high school students have expressed lingering feelings of sadness or hopelessness, with LGBTQ+ girls and youth reporting the highest levels of mental health problems and suicide attempts. It doesn’t help that research suggests middle and high school students aren’t getting enough sleep.
“These mental health issues are already happening and then with lack of sleep, they get much worsesaid Orfeu Buxton, director of the Sleep, Health and Society Collaboratory at Pennsylvania State University. “The same goes for decision making, suicidal ideation, that sort of thing.”
Reasons why institutes start so early – many start their journey before 7:30 – I am “lost in the sands of history”, Buxton said. But now, he said, “everything is incorporated: the traffic lights, the bus schedules and the work of adults.”
Nationwide, at least nine states they are considering legislation related to school starting times, up from four the previous year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California became the first and only state to dictate school start times in 2019.
Large school systems, including Denver, Philadelphia and Anchorage, Alaska, they studied later start times.
It may take innovation to create a new program.
Several options from 7:30
At Upper Darby High School, the school day technically starts at 7:30 in the morning.
Students are assigned distance learning subjects related to their day classes. But they can use the early hours of the morning as you see fit: they can meet teachers during working hours, Sleep late or finish other schoolwork.
Ultimately, the tasks assigned for the early morning hours must be done, but the timing is up to the students.
“I think that getting more sleep helps a lot”, Elise Olmstead, junior. “I would be more irritable during the day, especially later on, because I have so much to do after school. It would cost me more to face the day.”
The school day It still ends at 3 in the afternoon.
Fatima Afrani, a first year student, says that when she comes home she usually relaxes and then helps her mother or does her homework.
“If I’m tired I go to sleep, which I couldn’t do last year. Last year I just had to do my homework because there was no option to do it later,” she explains. “And so I liked that if I was tired, I could listen to my body and sleep.”
Principal Matthew Alloway said educators noticed fewer students than they fall asleep in class. The new program also allowed “children to go to school for exactly what they need to,” he said. About 400 of the school’s 4,250 students attend only through virtual learning, an option offered to compete with virtual schools.
Critics have argued that students have less time for instruction in the new program. THE the original 80-minute periods were shortenedbut Alloway said it’s not like classes always fill the 80 minutes.
“Sometimes it was 60-minute concentrated teaching time. But then there was time to write. There was time to read. There was time to watch a video,” she said.
Other problems derived from the pandemic, such as shortage of teachers, also benefited from the schedule change, according to administrators. Teachers can take care of themselves and their families in the morning. Managers have more time to replace sick staff.
Doulat, an Upper Darby elder, said that while students may not see the effects every day, there has been a huge positive impact.
“These are such small changes in our daily lives that we don’t realize it,” she added. “But little by little they start to add up and we really see the difference in our lives.”
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.