Oklahoma City Public Schools is considering adjusting start times. Elementary students would go to school earlier, middle and high schoolers later.
Walking the halls of high schools and middle schools across the district are sleep deprived teenagers that are underperforming in academics, more susceptible to depression and suicide and more at risk for eating disorders and car crashes, according to national research and medical professionals.
“Around the age of 13 to 15 years our circadian rhythm changes and what happens is it makes it more difficult to initiate sleep at bedtime,” explained Erin Hawks, PhD, a child psychologist at OU Medicine. “So older kids are feeling like they are not very tired until 10, 11, or midnight. So, they aren't able to feel restful sleep or enough sleep by the time it's time to get up and get ready for school,”
District administrators also pointed to the district's own statistics, which showed absences, failures, and students not getting credit for the class, were drastically higher during the first period.
“This topic was identified by the Trailblazers, a team of experienced educators who came together during our P2G planning, as something we should look into,” said Superintendent Sean McDaniel. “Research clearly shows that there are optimal times of day to start school for kids of different ages. “
Under the proposal:
Elementary schools would start at 7:50 a.m. and would end the day at 2:40 p.m. High schools would start at 8:40 a.m. and finish at 3:30 p.m. and middle schoolers would go from 9:30 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.
Superintendent Sean McDaniel said they are currently gathering input and looking into timing and logistics to see if they can make this work. He said he will make a recommendation to the board on this no later than March of this year.