Pediatricians and sleep experts have long urged later start times for teens
(Severna Park, MD) Today, the Nevada State Board of Education voted to continue to move forward a regulation to “set guidelines and guardrails for high school start times in all school districts and charter schools within the state.” The vote comes during Mental Health Awareness Week.
Under the proposed regulation, Nevada high schools would be required to start no earlier than 8:00 a.m., or districts must provide alternative start time options to families and students. Annual waivers would be available for schools that show they face unique challenges.
“This is exciting news for the Nevada teens who we hope will experience the known benefits of healthy school hours,” said Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD, co-founder and executive director of Start School Later, Inc. “I’m grateful for the leadership of President Felicia Ortiz and other members of the Nevada State Board of Education for shepherding this statewide effort to support student well-being. The ability of Nevada’s children to go to school at sleep-friendly hours shouldn’t vary by zip code.”
Setting a floor on how early high schools can start makes
Well over a thousand U.S. schools have moved to healthy school hours just in the last decade. These school districts all found opportunities — some cost-neutral — to manage logistics by prioritizing the best interests of the children they serve. At least two decades of research have consistently shown that moving to later school start times improves teen physical and mental health, results in better attendance and graduation rates, and lowers rates of car crashes involving teen drivers.*
Already this year, Florida joined California in recognizing the negative effects of too-early school start times on adolescent well-being by passing a law to require healthy hours for public middle and high schools. Lawmakers in at least eight other states are also considering legislation related to delaying start times for secondary school students, reflecting a growing recognition that many U.S. schools start at times that make healthy sleep virtually impossible for most teenagers, and the critical need for school hours that support adolescent physical and mental health, safety, and school performance.
The ability of Nevada’s children to go to school at
While pediatricians and sleep experts have long urged later school start times, the start school later movement took off with the formation of Start School Later in 2011, enabling advocates around the country to share resources and experiences. The grassroots non-profit now has over 150 volunteer-run chapters in four countries, 32 U.S. states, Washington DC, and international schools worldwide.
“Nevada’s proposed regulation is an innovative model for other states to consider,” said Snider. “Setting a floor on how early high schools can start makes healthy hours the expectation, rather than the exception. We know this is what’s best for kids, and we know it can be done. Kudos to Nevada for recognizing that and taking action.”
* Links to studies available on request.