School district considers later start after sleep study

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EPHRATA, Pa. (WHTM) – Ephrata Area School District is strongly considering pushing back the start times for the district’s middle and high schools.

The reason? Science.

Since the spring, school district administrators have worked with a group of experts from WellSpan Health to see if teenage sleeping habits match up with school start times.

“The recommendations out there from all the medical associations are not to start school before 8:30,” superintendent Dr. Brian Troop said.

Troop said the study showed school administrators that changes in melatonin make it harder for teenagers to fall asleep at night.

“There is such convincing and compelling evidence that we should not be having teenagers wake up early and come to school,” Troop added.

He said changing start times at the district’s middle and high school by an hour can help students academically, socially, physically, and mentally.

“If we can offer a schedule that allows them to enter those situations more rested and better equipped to regulate their emotions, and to interact with other teens who are better able to regulate their emotions and interact more appropriately, then we think that’s an improvement,” Troop said.

He says that other logistics like transportation and after school activities would have to be figured out if the school does move start times back.

“We know a lot more now than we did 10 years ago about the importance of sleep for all human beings,” Troop said.

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