When asked the question, “What do you look forward to doing the most over the weekend?” many respondents answered with the same thing: sleeping in. Students have a difficult time waking up to their alarms for school in the darkness of the early morning. One must ask the question, does it have to be like this or is there a way for students to be better rested during the week? The High Times spoke with Mr. Kaufman, a Board of Ed member, to see if he could give some insight on this topic.
First, it’s important to recognize the benefits that would come from later start times that go beyond simply feeling a little less tired in the morning. Mr. Kaufman tells the RHS High Times, “The upside of later start times for teens include better grades, better test scores, better attendance rates, higher graduation rates, decreased car accidents, less anxiety and depression/better sense of well-being, and many more. For the faculty, it would provide them with better students who could focus in class, be more engaging in class discussions, and, as mentioned above, better class attendance.”
Mr. Kaufman is a strong advocate for later start times, saying that it “has become one of my biggest priorities as a board member. The bottom line is this is not something teenagers can control. Their bodies and circadian rhythm changes during puberty and we need to do all we can to help.”
Later start times are not a new discussion. Mr. Kaufman says that “this has been a conversation for the last 6 years or more.” However, worries among parents and administrators prevent this change from actually happening. Some concerns include the students having shorter class times (thus, not maximizing their learning experience), parents having a hard time getting their kids to school during their work schedule, and out-of-school extracurricular activities overlapping with a potentially extended school day. Alisha, a sophomore at RHS, expresses her worry about this overlap: “My extracurricular activities that are not affiliated with RHS could overlap with school.” She does make the point however that there are no “downturns for high school students to take time for themselves and not revolve their life around school all the time.”
As for the future of start times at RHS, Mr. Kaufman gives hopeful words, noting that “with the input of some amazing parents, we, the BOE and administration, have been discussing this and are working to put together a committee of board of ed members, administrators, and community members that will include students to discuss the issue. It is my hope that we can try to, at least, have a pilot program in place for the 2021/2022 school year.”
Graphic: Sayumi Baduge