Towson High School sent out a letter today to let parents and students know that, “based on the needs of the school system,” Baltimore County Public Schools has decided that this coming year classes for Towson High students will start at 7:40 AM instead of at 7:50 AM as they did this year. The doors will still open at 7:00.
This is upsetting news for those advocating for later start times for high schoolers.
Andra Williams Broadwater, head of the Baltimore County chapter of the Start Schools Later movement, said she finds it “unconscionable” that BCPS is, in her view, putting the needs of the system ahead of what’s best for students.
“Early school start times, like those in Baltimore County, lead to chronic sleep deprivation for adolescents, whose physiology makes it hard for them to go to sleep and wake up early, as our school system requires. The accumulated sleep deprivation impairs their attention, memory, and judgement,” Broadwater said.
“It puts our students at higher risk of depression, substance abuse, and car crashes, among other dangers. Districts with later start times experience lower truancy and disciplinary incidents, and higher levels of student achievement and athletic performance,” she said.
Several local PTAs and PTSAs support later start dates, she said, including the Towson High PTSA.
“While the principal’s letter indicates start times will shift by ‘only’ 10 minutes, that means the first bus pickup for Towson High School students will be at 6:40 am,” Broadwater said. “From mid-September through mid-March, these students will be waiting for the bus before the sun rises.”
The full letter from Towson High can be read here.