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New certification encourages Maryland schools to start later in day

tired sleepy teen student stock photo purchsaed TF

Gov. Larry Hogan has signed into a law a bill that creates an “Orange Ribbon for Healthy School Hours” certification that is aimed at encouraging school systems to start school later in the morning so that students can get more sleep.

Baltimore County Public Schools, however, says it has no plans to change its start times.

According to the bill’s policy note, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that “multiple studies have found that sufficient sleep duration and quality are associated with higher grades and achievement scores, and studies also indicate that measures of attention, impulsivity, and error making were improved with longer sleep duration.

“The report also finds that the relevant literature consistently demonstrates that delaying school start times results in more sleep for students and that students do not react to significantly later start times by going to bed later at night. DHMH concludes its report by encouraging the State Board of Education to advise local school systems of the benefits of later school start time policies and to encourage them to conduct feasibility studies regarding the implementation of school starting times of 8:00 a.m. or later.”

alarm clockTo receive Orange Ribbon certification, a school system may not have an elementary school that requires a student to be in class before 8:00 AM and board a school bus before 7:00 AM, and a middle or high school that requires a student to be in class before 8:30 AM and board a school bus before 7:30 AM.

Towson High School starts at 7:50 AM and Dumbarton Middle School starts at 8:15 AM.

“We have been tracking and monitoring this bill and what some of our surrounding school system partners are doing, but at this time there are no plans to change school hours in Baltimore County Public Schools,” said Mychael Dickerson, a spokesman for BCPS.

The bill does not require schools to change their start times, nor does it provide a financial reward for doing so.

According to Start School Later, an Annapolis-based nonprofit that is advocating for later start times, the benefits of kids and teens getting more sleep include:

  • Improved alertness, memory, attention, and cognitive processing skills.
  • Improved academic performance that may be twice as great in disadvantaged students
  • Reduced tardiness, truancy, and drop-out rates
  • More sleep per night and reduced fatigue
  • Reduced depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduced risk of obesity, eating disorders, and diabetes
  • Improved mood and impulse control
  • Stronger immune system
  • Reduced risk of stimulant and other substance abuse, and high-risk health behaviors especially during early unsupervised hours in the afternoon.
  • Reduced delinquency
  • Fewer car crashes and better psychomotor performance
  • Increased visibility during commutes to school
  • Long-term economic benefit. A recent report published by the Brookings Institution predicts that starting high schools one hour later would result in roughly $17,500 in increased future earnings per student in present value – a benefit:cost ratio of at least 9:1.

-Kris Henry
Towson Flyer

Towson Flyer
Towson Flyer
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This would be a great fix to ensure school success, especially for high schools in Baltimore County…