by Jalil Boulahssas and Zahid Khan
On Oct. 23, 2014, after conducting a long study on the correlation between more sleep and higher grades, the FCPS school board unanimously decided to implement a new plan titled “Blueprint for Change”. The plan is to change school start times to allow an extra hour of sleep for high school students. Despite differing reactions, starting in September 2015, high schools will start at 8to 8:10 and end at 2:45 to 2:55.
Zahid: Starting later doesn’t directly give students more time to sleep. Most students will just go to sleep later. The current start time may negatively affect the sleep phrase, but if students are so “sleep deprived” then they could always take a nap after school. The new later start time will cost FCPS $4.9 million for more buses. This money could be used on basic essentials like colored ink or to repair broken restrooms, Stuart and other FCPS schools still have struggle to maintain basic facilities available to the students.
Jalil: Sleep has been the biggest talking point for the Fairfax County School Board and anyone who supports the later high school start times. According to sleepinfairfax.org, teens with later school start times sleep more than teens in Fairfax County (2 in 3 Fairfax County teens are sleep deprived.) While many take sleep for granted, it is truly food for the brain. According to sleepfoundation.org, “Sleep is as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.”
Sports and Clubs
Zahid: Ending school later would severely impact sports in many aspects. Students would get home from practice and games much later leaving them little to no time to get homework done. Some sports such as basketball currently start practice at 6:30 p.m. and end around 8 p.m. With the later start time, it would force these sports to delay the original start of practice. There are six Raider basketball teams, with two gyms managing and organizing new times would cause problems and conflicts. This will also affect games/matches, Golf matches currently start immediately after school at 2:45, as well as tennis matches which start at 3:30. Considering not all high school tennis courts have lights, matches would have to be continued on another day since days are shorter in the early part of the season.
Jalil: 72 out of 95 counties in Virginia have high school start times set at or after 8 a.m. Those later start times have had very little negative effects on extracurricular activities. If anything, more sleep will improve performance in sports and decrease the amount of sports injuries,
“Because we have such a big break from when we finish school and when those practices start, our athletic directors say that there will be minimal impact in our after school programing,” said FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza. In counties like Loudon County and Arlington County, after school programs are expected to run smoothly, despite the late start times. In Loudoun County, high schools start at 9 a.m. and end at 3:50 while maintaining competitive sports teams. Nearby Wakefield High School has a starting time of 8:19 and a dismissal time of 3:01.
Zahid: With school ending around 3 p.m., many students would be forced to work less hours or work later into the night. Acknowledging many employers and businesses close in the evening, students who need to provide for their families will suffer the most from this change. “Ending an hour later interferes with my job, making me have to start work immediately after school, or ending my shift later at night,” said junior Bobby Hosseini, Hosseini works at Sears as a Sales Associate.
Jalil: Students will have to simply adjust their schedules to comply with the extra hour in the afternoon that school will take up.
When asked about how later high school start and end times would affect him, sophomore Carlos Juarez, who works at Takorean in DC said “Well for me, I work from 4-9 so it doesn’t affect me really…”
“The extra hour I have between when school ends and when I start work is when I do most of my homework.” Although a later dismissal time will force some students to adjust their work schedules, a change in your schedule to account for an extra hour in the afternoon won’t have any dramatic effects.