Community asks Norfolk school board members to push back school start times


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s a debate that’s spreading across the country — would later start times help students do better? 

Another district is debating hitting snooze for high schoolers. 

Norfolk school board members discussed the possibility on Wednesday night. There was no official vote, but there were a lot of opinions. 

Several parents, teachers and even doctors addressed board members encouraging them to let students sleep in longer.

According to the CDC, it’s recommended that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. However for many students, that’s just not a reality. 

“I was chronically sleep deprived during high school,” said Morgan Brown, a recent graduate of Granby High School. “It was hard. On average per week I think I got six hours per night.”

Some parents said their children were constantly taking naps to keep up with waking up early, going to school and then doing homework, extra-curricular activities or both after class is over. One parent even said her 16-year-old daughter takes melatonin in order to go to bed at a decent hour. 

“Why? Because her circadian rhythms, being a teenager, don’t want her to go to sleep at 8:30 at night which is what she has to do in order to be able to get up at 6:30 in the morning,” 

Besides being tired, another speaker who identified himself as a doctor said he’s seen sleep deprivation have even bigger effects on teens 

“Over the last 10 years or so I’ve seen more and more children coming in for anxiety, depression, high school age children. What we typically see is children in a cycle of being behind in homework,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone said there’s still more work to be done before a final decision is made but so far, it looks like both the district and students could benefit from changing the start times.

“It has the potential to be a win-win in terms of some financial savings with our transportation but also giving students what they need to be successful in school,” Dr. Boone said.

Community forums and public comment sessions are being planned in the coming year before a vote takes place.

We’ll keep following this story and let you know what’s decided.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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