Many students in Philadelphia have to get on the bus in the morning not long after the darkness of the night begins to fade. They stand outside on sidewalks, some in groups, to wait for buses that will take them to school. When students get to school, the sun has only been up a short time. School officials are trying to change the times that some schools start so that students don’t have to stand outside in the dark.
It’s not unusual for students to be on the bus before 7 a.m. There are students who eat breakfast at school or who sit in the library before that time. Many schools in Philadelphia and surrounding areas begin the school day at 7 with the tardy bell ringing only a few minutes later. A later start time could be a benefit to the overall health of students. When students have to get up that early in the morning, it’s sometimes hard to get motivated for the day. Stress levels are higher because they know that they have to be up at a certain time and function in class at an early hour.
As stress levels increase, students begin to feel depressed, something that school officials want to stop before it starts. Most children need to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. In order for children to get an adequate amount of sleep while having time to do homework the night before and spend time with family members, schools would need to start closer to 8 a.m. or 8:30. Parents and staff members have been consulted about changing the times. Many schools are trying to implement later start times, but there haven’t been many changes seen in the behavior of students to get a clear indication as to whether it will be a successful change.