Howard County Board of Education decides to change its school schedule in hopes of keeping kids energized for school

Howard County Board of Education works out a new bus schedule for their upcoming school year which will feature new school start times.

Karen Ohlrich

Howard County Board of Education works out a new bus schedule for their upcoming school year which will feature new school start times.

by Delaney Browne, Reporter

Science shows that it is important for minors to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Sadly, early school hours and late nights make this near impossible.

Many say that it is important to keep the current hours, seeing as it forces children to go to sleep at a specific time. Yet, others believe school hours should change since the current schedule does not stop many from staying up late and being tired in the morning, either way. 

Howard County seems to agree with the concept of a later start time, and as of February 23, they announced a decision to change their county’s school hours. 

The new hours will split schools into three different tiers. The first consists of high schoolers who will change from their original 7:30 a.m. start to an 8 a.m start time.  

The second tier will consist of mostly middle schools and a few elementary schools with a new start time of 8:40 a.m, and the final tier consists of the remaining elementary schools which will begin at 9:15 a.m.

But even Howard County’s new start time does not keep up with the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendation that schools should not start until 8:30 at the earliest. Yet, the U.S. seems to largely ignore this recommendation, with a total of 42 states starting school before the recommended time.

Some may worry that this will affect the students’ overall learning time, but the reality of the situation is that the schools will be ending slightly later as well, ensuring all students get the requisite seven hours of school daily. 

Many students from Linganore High School are jealous of the students from Howard County, wishing that they could start school a little later as well.

“I miss having sleep,” said Linganore freshman Charlotte Grimes.

She agrees with the Howard County Board of Education and wishes Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) would implement later start times so that she could finally be awake while at school.

“I do like getting out earlier, but everyone is tired in the morning and their brains aren’t fully awake,” Grimes said.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, not getting enough sleep can cause children many health problems such as becoming overweight or acquiring depression.

I think all the research points to a later start is better for high school students just in terms of their functionality,

— Christopher Hahn

“I don’t know that I’ve considered all the different issues. I just know that I do believe that first period starts too early for kids to be at their best,” said Linganore science teacher, Christopher Hahn.

Others believe that changing school hours will not do much to help students in the long run and may even ultimately harm them.

Some teachers agree with the earlier start times though, believing that it prepares students for the real world and early rising jobs. “There’s so many opportunities in different places and the schedules will vary,” Linganore Spanish teacher Rosa Munoz said. “When they finish high school they will find it difficult to get used to real life and getting up early.”

Even students believe that the later start time may have negative effects overall. 

“Some people have jobs right after [school],” said Ayden Humphries, a freshman at Linganore. “Plus if it [school] starts earlier in the morning, then it goes by quicker, and I can prioritize my afternoons.”

Experts such as Professor Chris Drew believe that starting school earlier in the morning will be better for preparing students for the future.

“Students who adapt to getting up early, preparing for the day and balancing their daily schedule are more prepared for adulthood,” said Drew.   

Some argue that the school hours should stay the same, but the different grade levels should swap times, instead. This means elementary students would wake up earlier while high school students go to school at 9 a.m.

 This is the case for many schools in Carrboro, North Carolina.

“I love the mornings because I can sleep in, or some days, I will wake up at 6:00 a.m. to do homework or go get breakfast with my friends,” said Tova Ohlrich, sophomore at Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina.

According to Ohlrich, the one problem with having schools start later is the fact that their school day does not end until 4:00 pm. Consequently, since she plays lacrosse for her school, Ohlrich will not actually get home until around 6:30 pm.