No cause for alarm? Later starts begin for Fairfax County (Va.) high school students

No cause for alarm? Later starts begin for Fairfax County (Va.) high school students

Reacting to research advocating a later start for high school students, the Fairfax County district is beginning the day at 8:10 a.m. at most high schools; last year's typical start time was 7:20 a.m.  

More than 57,000 high school students in the Fairfax County (Va.) district were able to sleep in a little later this morning because the school system has changed start times on its campuses

Most high schools in the district began classes last year at 7:20 a.m. This year, classes at most high schools will begin at 8:10 a.m.; some campuses will start at 8 a.m. Students will be dismissed at either 2:45 p.m. or 2:55 p.m.

"Research has shown that adolescents benefit from later school start times," the district's web site states. Officials cited research indicating that "sleep-deprived students have shortened attention spans, slower reaction time, lower test scores, poorer grades, increased rates of depression, and higher risk of car crashes."

To accommodate the time change at the high schools and coordinate bus schedules with other other schools, the Fairfax County board also approved changes that mean an earlier starting time for most middle schools. Those campuses, for the most part, are starting classes at 7:30 a.m. In 2014-15, most middle schools began at 7:55 a.m. or 8 a.m.

The district concedes that the middle school schedule is "not optimal," but states that it will continue to work on moving the start time at those schools closer to 8 a.m.

The board voted in October 2014 to reconfigure its schedule. The decision was the result of a two-year effort to find a way to establish start times for high schools at 8 a.m. or later. The district says the cost of changing the schedule is $4.9 million; to accommodate the new schedule, the board approved the purchase of an additional 27 school buses.

Video from New start times will complicate "Terrible Traffic Tuesday:"


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