School start time issue complex

Brayden Rush, Opinion Editor

Philadelphia schools have made the decision to push their start times back an hour-and-a-half. The change of start times from a 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. will take effect for the 2022-23 school year.

This topic has been up for debate for the past few decades and advocates for later school start times will argue that later start times allow students to get enough sleep each night. If students are unable to get the rest they need, complications to their physical and mental wellbeing will ensue.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance.”

Along with these risks, students may also be more likely to not engage in physical activity and suffer from symptoms of depression.

Students not receiving enough sleep is a major problem facing today’s youth and school, and start times is a factor that is often pointed to when discussing this issue. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that schools start no later than 8:30 a.m. but 93% of high schools in the U.S. start earlier than that — Spring-Ford included.

Although research has shown that earlier start times can reduce the aforementioned effects to some degree, it does not completely solve the issue. There are other factors that can ruin students’ sleep schedules. One of which being technology.

Technology is prevalent in everyone’s daily lives and some unwanted consequences have come along with it.

“A survey of more than 3,000 adolescents demonstrated that the majority texts, reads, or plays video games in bed,” according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It has also been demonstrated that adolescents who use electronic devices in bed have shorter sleep duration, later bedtimes, increased daytime sleepiness, and worse academic performance.”

It is hard to deny that technology greatly impacts students’ sleep routines and academic performances. So it makes it even harder to argue that starting school later will solve the entirety of the issue. There would certainly be students who would take the time changes as a chance to just stay up longer on their phones instead of actually sleeping.

Also, many students have responsibilities after school that make it difficult for them to fall asleep at a reasonable time.

In high school, students are often working after school and often can’t get home before the sun goes down. Students who are involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities have the same problem, with practices on the weekdays lasting until 10 o’clock at night.

It would be unfair to force students to give up any sport, job, or activity they love so they would be able to get to sleep on time. Which is a big reason why schools start so early, so they could get enough sleep and still get to participate in these activities.
While starting school later sounds like a good idea, it seems more idealistic rather than practical. This is an issue that needs more attention but also more discussion at a realistic solution.