MIAMI (WSVN) – Classes may be starting a little bit later in the future for Miami-Dade County students.
The School Board has voted to explore later start times for classes in an effort to find a schedule that would allow students to get appropriate amounts of sleep needed for overall health and well-being.
“Adolescent sleep needs are driven by a temporary biological shift in sleep onset and wake times that occurs concurrently with the onset of puberty and ends in early adulthood,” the board said in a press release. “Early school start times run counter to this biological condition and can contribute substantially to adolescent sleep deprivation.”
The district has had some schools participate in a pilot program of later start times for high school students. Administrators said initial findings saw reports of higher energy and alertness from participating students.
Currently, in Miami-Dade County, classes start at 7:20 a.m. for high school students and 9:10 a.m. for middle school students. Elementary schools have two start times: 8:20 a.m. for Pre-K to first grade; and 8:35 a.m. for elementary and K-8 Centers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
The school board said potential alternatives to the bell schedule will include options for starting all grade levels no earlier than 8 a.m., and they will allow for expanded transportation operations.
Officials said feedback on the potential changes will be solicited through a small focus group of parents, school leaders and teachers. Additional feedback will also be gathered through other means such as surveys, town hall meetings and additional focus groups.
“Recognizing that any changes could significantly impact families and employees, we will be exhaustive in our approach of engaging all stakeholders in robust and transparent conversations to ensure we have the most well-informed community,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “Having listened to the voices of students. Having listened to the voices of parents. Having listened to the voices of pediatricians across the country and well-founded research that starting the school day a little bit later is better for children, it is better for the community.”
Officials said Carvalho will bring a recommendation to the board by Spring 2020 for potential implementation for the 2020-2021 school year.
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