WHS Superintendent Arthur Unobskey recently unveiled plans for changes in school start times. WSPN’s Caterina Tomassini and Caitlin Newton offer two different perspectives on the issue.

School Start Times: Two sides of the debate

November 29, 2017

Wayland Superintendent Arthur Unobskey recently unveiled plans for changes in school start times. WSPN’s Caterina Tomassini and Caitlin Newton offer two different perspectives on the issue.

Are you for or against later school start times?

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Opinion: Yes to Start Times

Ah, the beauty of the early morning: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you’re about to miss your 6:45 bus ride to school because you didn’t go to bed until midnight. As a result, you woke up late. And don’t forget about your first-period math test.

Wayland Public Schools has been looking into the impact of the early high school start times, and many in the Wayland community have agreed that pushing the start times back would improve not only the health of students, but also their academic performance.

As of right now, the first bell rings at a brutal 7:30 in the morning, a time when students’ brains are not fully ready to learn. As we get older, the workload becomes more demanding and extra-curricular activities become more involved. We go to bed later, school starts earlier and we lose sleep.

According to Nationwide Children’s, teens should be getting nine and a half hours of sleep per night, but the average teen is sleeping only seven hours. Most of us go to bed at around 11 p.m., and if we were getting the proper amount of sleep, we wouldn’t be waking up until 8:30 a.m. — a whole hour after the first period begins.

Recently, Wayland Public Schools Superintendent Arthur Unobskey announced his plan for the pushing back of school start times; the goal for the high school start time for the 2019-2020 school year is 8 a.m., 30 minutes later than right now. This may not fix all of our workload problems, but by delaying the school start time until 8, our brains will function a bit better at the start of school.

Teens’ brains are not fully awake and engaged until between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., so how well can we really perform academically at 7:30 in the morning? By delaying the start time by just 30 minutes, we will be more capable of learning at the beginning of the school day.

Even though the suggested start time in only 30 minutes later, we would all appreciate the extra sleep. And don’t forget about the METCO students; their commute to school is far longer than anyone who lives in Wayland. Lots of the students in the METCO program wake up as early as 5 a.m. in order to get to school, and waking up 30 minutes later could make a difference, especially if the sun has risen by the time they get on the bus.

“As a METCO student going from Boston to Wayland, it takes 45 minutes [to get to school in the morning], and I wake up before the sun rises; for me, that’s a problem,” freshman METCO student Kayla Simpson said. “[Waking up half an hour later] would feel way better.”

Starting school early in the morning is very difficult as is, so for us non-morning people, it’s a struggle to solve algebra equations at a time when we should be sleeping. Being sleep-deprived negatively affects teens, for it can make us more prone to being irritable and cranky. On top of that, sleep deprivation can compromise our decision-making process and our alertness.

This is especially important for those who drive themselves to school in the morning. Lack of sleep can cause microsleeps: brief sleep episodes that last up to 30 seconds, during which a person temporarily loses consciousness. 30 seconds of being unconscious are enough to result in a dangerous car accident.

Pushing the school start time is a great idea, and it will be beneficial to every student at Wayland High School. And good luck on that math test.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.

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Opinion: No to Start Times

Imagine this: The clock reads 11:58 p.m. You sigh at the giant pile binders sitting on your desk. Even though it’s already almost midnight, you have yet to finish your homework. You calculate that you can sleep for six and a half hours if you finish your homework by 1 a.m, which would give you time to wake up, eat breakfast, and arrive at your first class on time (8 a.m.).

This struggle to complete work (and get a decent night’s sleep) is daily for Wayland High School students. Superintendent of Wayland Public Schools, Dr. Arthur Unobskey, has proposed implementing later school start times for the elementary, middle and high schools. The process would occur in two different phases, the first pushing WHS start times back by 20 minutes next year, and the second by a half hour for the 2019-2010 school year. By the end of the second phase, WHS would start at 8 a.m. and be dismissed at 2:45 p.m. daily, except on Wednesdays.

The majority of WHS students participate in sports, myself included. For those who participate, sports are an extremely important part of a student’s high school career. I have formed really close bonds with my teammates, and it’s fun to represent our school every time we take the field or court.

WHS is known not only for its strong academics, but also for its great athletic programs. When I have an away game, the bus is supposed to leave at 2:30 p.m. to ensure we arrive with enough time for warm-ups. With the current 2:15 ending time for school, we are already very tight on time. Since most of the other teams in the Dual County League potentially won’t have the same school end times as Wayland, student-athletes will be late for our games unless if they are dismissed from school early.

On occasion, when there is a playoff game or a meet at a weird time, students are dismissed from school early. With the school day being shifted to a later time, students will be forced to miss even more of their academics on days when they have a regular season game.

At WHS, most team sports have enough participants to have varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams. Due to the limited field and court space, scheduling practices is already difficult. With the proposed later start times, this scheduling process will be even more complicated. Furthermore, WHS teams aren’t the only groups that use the fields at the high school. Sharing the field limits practice length because all teams need to share the facilities in a smaller amount of time.

The METCO program would also be negatively impacted. Boston students have to wake up around 5:30 a.m. in order arrive at their bus stop on time. Since there is more traffic later in the morning, the Boston bus would find itself stuck in more traffic, making for a more frustrating and untimely morning commute.

A later start time would affect not only the morning commute for our Boston residents — their evening commute would take much longer as well. The time they spend traveling to and from school is already a large amount of time in their day. By pushing back start and end times, their commute will only get longer, which means their amount of time to do homework, play a sport or do any other extracurricular decreases.

Although Unobskey claims the change will allow students to reach their maximum time of sleep necessary (9 hours), the hours of sleep students would actually get will be either the same or even less than they are getting now. There are some benefits to the change, but for the majority of students, there would only be negative impacts.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.

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