The stereotype of the tired teenager trudging to school and falling asleep in class is no myth. As kids reach puberty, they naturally stay awake later, and become sleep deprived as school start times generally stay the same.
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Now, after years of Jefferson County’s Public Schools’ own Start Time Task Force looking into the issue, start and end times for the District’s schools will be shifted starting August 2023.
“I hope that, the change not happening until mid-August 2023, that will give folks plenty of lead time,” said Kimberly Eloe, executive director of communications at Jeffco Public Schools. “We thought it was important to give people enough time to pivot.”
Health researchers like the American Academy of Pediatrics and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published research for years showing that sleep deprivation in teenagers “significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation’s middle and high school students,” and points to school start times being the easiest factors to change.
Commissioned in 2018 to look into the issue, the Start Time Task Force has put out a 21,000 response survey, spoken to family and staff, and on Jan. 12 of this year given direction to explore how best to make the change happen. This month is the culmination of that direction.
“It’s challenging right now because we operate more than 75 different start and end times across the District,” said Eloe, across 700 square miles and 155 schools. She continued that creating “equitable instructional time” across all schools — to give all students the right amount of time for their grade — and aligning that with the start time recommendations for their ages, was one of the largest logistical challenges.
The second being bussing.
“What we did was align our new operational schedule to the number of bus drivers we have available today, versus what we used to have — which is how our current system is set up,” said Eloe, referencing the bus driver shortage that has occurred over the pandemic. She said the District is excited to “offer reliable transportation again…”
Times are not standardized completely across the District, Eloe explained, but “more standardized.”
“I think some people are going to be really excited, really happy, and some people are just going to begrudge that it’s a change to their schedule,” she said.
New start times can be found at EnrollJeffco in the school's profiles.
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