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Welcome to Q&A (Updated December 19, 2019)

 The below questions and answers address a range of subjects frequently discussed during the multi-year Start Time Committee.

             

GENERAL

Was the final recommended schedule approved by the School Board?
No, the schedule below, recommended[1]  by the Start Time Committee, is set for a board vote in late January. If approved by the School Board on Jan. 27, 2020, the schedule will take effect beginning the 2020-2021 school year:
• Hampton High School: 8:20 a.m. - 3:01 p.m. (currently 7:30 a.m. – 2:19 p.m.)
• Hampton Middle School: 7:50 a.m. - 2:40 p.m. (currently 7:55 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.)
• Elementary Schools: 8:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (currently 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.)

What was the initial schedule recommendation for HTSD schools?
The Start Time Committee offered an initial school schedule recommendation[2]  to the HTSD School Board on May 13, 2019:
Hampton High School: 8:30 a.m. - 3:19 p.m. (currently 7:30 a.m. – 2:19 p.m.)
Hampton Middle School: No change (currently 7:55 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.)
Elementary Schools: 9:10 a.m. - 3:55 p.m. (currently 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.)

When will the change to school schedules be implemented?
The new school schedules will go into effect next school year (2020-21).

Was thought given to the option of "flipping" the high school and elementary school start times?
Yes, a schedule was developed and examined that proposed that elementary school start school first followed by the secondary schools, referred to as a schedule "flip." This option was eliminated for several reasons, including the possibility of hazardous conditions (due to daylight) for the elementary-aged children while waiting for the bus in the morning.

How does the district plan to measure the effectiveness of a change?
The School Start Time committee surveyed high school students in Spring 2018 to gather baseline data regarding sleep patterns and social/emotional well-being. The most recent survey also provided additional Data regarding student sleep. If a change to school start times takes place, the district will measure the effectiveness of such a change using the following metrics:*

○        Student Survey Data

○        Parent Survey Data

○        Nurse Visits

○        Attendance Data (Absences and Tardiness)

○        School Psychologist Referrals

○        Review of Historical PA Youth Survey Data (Every two years)

○        Review of Historical Early Dismissal Data

*Data to be used as applicable

SCIENCE/DATA

Why are adolescents not getting enough sleep?
[3] During adolescence, circadian rhythms are delayed, making it extremely difficult for teens to fall asleep prior to 11 p.m. and wake up prior to 8 a.m. Although a teenager's sleep quality can be made worse by excessive academic/extra-curricular demands, poor sleep hygiene, or misuse of technology at bed-time, it is largely driven by a universal delay in the body’s sleep clock during adolescence. Early school hours play a significant role as they force teens to wake up before they have achieved the minimum amount of sleep required for optimum health and performance.

What are the effects of insufficient sleep?

○        Effects on health include: increases in depressed mood, anxiety, suicidal ideation, weight gain, obesity, substance use and abuse as well as decreased emotional regulation

○        Effects on safety include: increases in motor vehicle accidents, athletic injuries, risk-taking behaviors and physical fights/bullying

○        Effects on performance include: decreased concentration, problem-solving ability and academic performance, along with poorer cognitive efficiency and memory

How much sleep does my child need?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend the following ranges:

○        10-13 hours for children 3 to 5 years of age

○        9-12 hours for children 6 to 12 years of age

○        8-10 hours for teenagers 13 to 18 years of age

           

Why change school hours?
[4] It is well established that sleep deprivation is known to compromise teenagers’ health, safety, and performance. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and American Medical Association recognize the disconnect between school start times and most school schedules and recommend a high school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later. Pushing start times back helps to enable students to reach two critical sleep goals: 1) achieve the adequate amount of sleep that they need; and 2) to sleep during a time that is more in sync with their biology, namely, their delayed circadian rhythm. Waking a high school student up at 6am is akin to waking an adult up at 4 a.m. As a result, they suffer from a form of circadian dysrhythmia known as “social jet-lag” during their school week.

How do we know teenagers aren't getting enough sleep?
• A National Sleep Foundation Poll found 87% of U.S. high school students were getting less than the recommended hours of sleep on school nights
• The CDC's 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 75.4% of U.S. high school students get fewer than 8 hours of sleep on school nights, and 43% get 6 or fewer hours. This is an increase from 2011, 2013, and 2015 surveys.

Are we sure sleep deprivation is a concern for Hampton High School students?
Yes. According to a sleep survey administered to HHS students in Spring 2018:

○        77% of respondents self-reported getting less than the required amount of sleep during the school week.

Why is the Hampton High School start time recommendation 8:20 a.m.?
Why not 8 a.m.? Data on schools that moved their start times to 8 a.m. rather than 8:30 a.m. or later revealed less robust results. In schools with an earlier school start time, fewer students were able to obtain eight hours of sleep or more. This amount of sleep is the “tipping point” needed, as research reveals clear benefits for students who obtain eight hours of sleep or more with respect to depression and substance use like caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Is there evidence that delaying school start times will be associated with positive outcomes?
Yes. School start times of 8:30 a.m. or later are associated with:

○        Increased sleep duration

○        Less sleepiness

○        Improved attendance

○        Less tardiness

○        Less falling asleep in class

○        Fewer depressive symptoms

○        Decreased health office visits

○        Fewer motor vehicle crashes

○        Though data is limited, some evidence of increase in GPAs and SATs (with no adverse impact on academics)   

With a later school start time for high school, won't students just stay up later at night?
Contrary to some beliefs and expectations, there is evidence that students will obtain more sleep when school start time is shifted later. In addition to the amount of sleep, the timing of sleep is important. Students benefit immensely when they sleep at a time that is in line with their circadian rhythm.

TRANSPORTATION

Will the "three-tier" busing system be changed?
HTSD's current "three-tier" busing system means fleets of buses are dispatched to service elementary, middle, and high school students separately, so that students only ride on a bus with other students at their same grade level. Under the final recommendation, the three-tier busing system currently used by HTSD will remain in place.

Will HHS and HMS students have to ride on the same bus?
No. One of the initial recommendations called for HMS and HHS students riding the bus together in a "two-tier" busing model. Responding to subsequent feedback, the final recommendation maintains the current "three-tier" busing model to allow HMS and HHS students to ride the bus separately.

How efficient are the bus routes?
To ensure bus transportation in the district is operating as optimally as possible, the district contracted with the third-party bus routing company TransFinder to study the system for efficiencies. In addition to the results of Transfinder's work, the HTSD Transportation Department was instrumental in scrutinizing all of the district's bus routes and modifying runs as necessary to maximize the efficiency. A simulated transportation run has been scheduled for January 20, 2020.

How is traffic going to be affected?

○        It is difficult to predict how the change in school hours will affect traffic patterns. HTSD will continually work with Hampton Township to address possible related issues.

○        The Hampton Police Department will assist with traffic control for the High School and Middle School afternoon dismissals.

○        HTSD buses are already on the roads during the hours of the proposed change.

How does the requirement that HTSD bus private school students affect this recommendation?

○        Under the final recommendation, transportation for private school students will be unchanged.

Will the times that parents can drop off children shift as well?

○        Yes. The earliest drop off times for each building will be:

■     High School: 7:50 a.m.

■      Middle School: 7:25 a.m.

■      Elementary School: 8:15 a.m.

The District will allow elementary students to be dropped at 8:00 a.m. to assist families with the transition during the first year.

What time will my child’s bus arrive in the morning?

The estimated pickup & arrival times are as follows:

■      High School:   

Bus pickup window: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

School arrival window: 8:00 a.m. to 8:10 a.m.

■      Middle School:

Bus pickup window: 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

School arrival window: 7:25 a.m. to 7:35 a.m.

■      Elementary Schools:               

Bus pickup window: 8:05 a.m. to 8:35 a.m.

School arrival window: 8:25 a.m. to 8:40 a.m.

ATHLETICS/ACTIVITIES

How will sports be affected at HMS and HHS?
Hampton Middle School sports are not affected. Administration looked at all the sports and identified the sports that would need early dismissal. Athletes will continue to be dismissed early.

Will a later start time disrupt athletics?

○        Schools that have adopted later start times have found extracurricular activity participation remains largely unchanged. In addition, research confirms that students experience fewer sports injuries when well-rested.

Are some teams going to be moving their practices to before school?
No. The swimming and diving teams will continue to offer optional morning practice time to their athletes, which will be delayed accordingly. All other practices will continue to take place after school.

Will community sports programs be affected?
Community sports programs are important to the success and growth of athletics at Hampton High School. There are no anticipated changes to community sports field usage.         

OTHER

What can we do, in addition to changing school start times, to help adolescents get more sleep?
HTSD plans to undertake a number of strategies to help the district community support student sleep health, including:

○        Encouraging families to practice good sleep hygiene

○        Encouraging families to evaluate and, where possible, modify potentially excessive academic and extra-curricular demands

○        Educating community on general sleep health strategies

○        Continuing to integrate sleep health into school instruction

Will the number of school days per year change?
No. In terms of school day hours, the final recommended schedule actually brings more equity to the length of the school day at HTSD schools.

Will homework be reduced?
There will not necessarily be a reduction in the amount of homework. Survey data indicates that students do not have an unreasonable amount of homework. Students who graduated from HTSD report they were well prepared for college.

Will the later end to the elementary school day negatively affect students?
The committee’s initial recommendation offered on May 13, 2019[5]  proposed that the elementary school day ends at 3:55 p.m. Feedback from parents and teachers led to the final recommendation, moving the end of the elementary day up to 3:30 p.m. The committee’s goal was to put forth a plan that would have the greatest positive impact on the most number of students, with as minimal an impact and disruption to existing school schedules.

Under the final recommendation, aren't HMS students not getting the benefit of extra sleep?
Studies show that while a switch to an adolescent's circadian rhythm begins at puberty, maximum circadian delay in teenagers peaks between the ages of 15-21, putting high school students at the greatest risk of experiencing negative effects of chronic sleep. The final recommendation benefits the greatest number of students. Research conducted during the district's study of sleep and school start times found that middle school students are currently getting adequate levels of sleep. Moreover, HMS students will benefit from the final recommendation in just a few years, getting a full four years of medically recommended sleep throughout high school.

What other districts have changed their school schedules?
Unionville-Chadds Ford, Radnor, State College and Phoenixville school districts have all made changes to their start times in an effort to address student sleep needs. Lower Merion and Tredyffrin-Easttown school districts are currently studying sleep and changing start time. In HTSD, discussions on these topics have been occurring since 2017.

Will high school students lose class time?
No. Following discussions with the high school faculty, it was discovered that an eight minute announcement period could be eliminated from the school day. Announcements are provided to students in other ways, and do not require being read over the PA system for dissemination.

What happens if HMS students arrive earlier then the 7:50 a.m. start time?
As is current practice, HMS students who arrive earlier than the start of school will spend this time in the cafeteria.

Will the new elementary before- and after-school care provider change its rates?
The YMCA adjusts their rates annually. The shift in start times will not increase fees.

Are there any additional costs this change may incur?
At this time, there does not appear to be any significant costs to the district. There are a few shared teacher positions that might need to be increased, as well as the possibility of the addition of an additional bus.


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