School Hour Changes For Next Year

How will these changes effect you?



With these school hour changes, students and teacher alike are hopeful for a better overall learning experience.

People have been debating school start times for a while. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, they believe that some schools start to early. The CDC reports that “…starting school later can help adolescents get enough sleep and improve their health, academic performance, and quality of life.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high school students start school at 8:30 A.M. or later. This start time would allow students to get the recommended hours of sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teenagers, ages 13 through 18, should sleep 8 to 10 hours a night. In a 2014 study, it was found that 93% of high schools and 83% of the middle schools in the U.S. started before 8:30am.

Lafayette students Connor Williams (left) and Nick Garcia-Hart (right) are seen sleeping during the first class of the day. When they awoke from their slumber, I asked them why they were so tired. They said it was due to having to stay up all night doing homework.

According to the CDC, teens not getting enough sleep can result in obesity and depression. Not getting enough sleep can also cause teens to engage in unhealthy habits such as drinking, using drugs, and using other harmful substances. Teens are also more likely to perform poorly in school. The leading cause of students not getting enough sleep is because of early school start times.

Thankfully, some changes have been made to middle and high school student start times. However, it is not enough. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, most high schools are averaging a start time around 8am. Those extra few precious minutes of sleep, can provide students with a good feeling of rest. Virginia is averaging a start time around 8:14 A.M. Please note, however, that these times do include elementary schools which typically start later.

In Williamsburg and James City County Schools, start times have varied in the past two years. During the 2020-2021 school year all high schools and Toano Middle School started school at 7:20 A.M. and ended at 2:20 P.M. The rest of the middle schools started school at 8:05 A.M. and ended at 3:05 P.M. As you can see, these start times are before the recommended 8:30 A.M. However, the 8:30 A.M. start time is the very earliest middle and high schoolers should go to school. If you can start them later, for example, around 9 A.M. or 9:30 A.M., teens would be better off.

Students are hopeful that the new changes to school hours will help alleviate late arrivals during first period.

Williamsburg and James City County schools have adjusted instructional hours for next school year. Starting in August 2022, all high schools will start at 7:20 A.M. and will be dismissed at 2:oo P.M. All middle schools, including Toano Middle School, will be starting at 8:05 A.M. and will be dismissed at 2:45 P.M

James River Elementary School and Stonehouse Elementary School will begin school at 8:55 A.M. and will end at 3:25 P.M. Lastly, Clara Byrd Baker, DJ Montague, J. Blaine Blayton, Laurel Lane, Matoaka, Matthew Whaley, and Norge will begin school at 9:35 A.M. and will end at 4:05 P.M. The Division assures us that “the length of our instructional day, however, is still well within requirements of the VDOE and we’re confident in the rigorous instruction that will continue to be delivered.”

The reasoning behind these changes is to incorporate more common collaboration, learning, and planning time for the school staff. The Division also reported that it will help to alleviate transportation problems as well.

Also discussed was the possibility of switching elementary schools times with the secondary school times for the 2023-2024 school year. This change would mean that elementary schools will begin earlier and secondary schools will begin later.