Later Start of School, Better Student Mindset

At 7:55 AM, Westminster students are in their respective 1st hour classrooms getting ready to learn and start the day. However, these same students have to wake up at 6:00 AM or earlier in order to get ready and commute to school. This has led to multiple people not truly being awake and alert to take in the information that is in front of them for a majority of the morning.


Because of the issue of weary, sleep-deprived students, Westminster should start school later than it does right now. If Westminster changes the time that school starts, there can be quite a few benefits for the students that are present.


One of the biggest reasons why Westminster should start later is because it can improve both student’s physical and mental health. Anayat Durrani, who works for, quotes sleep psychologist and clinical associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Shelby Harris, who states, “Research shows that when school starts later, teens get more sleep.” Teenagers need an average of 9 hours of sleep per day, and, if school starts later, they are able to get the sleep that they need and feel refreshed and focus on learning more in school. This also “leads to better physical and mental health, including decreased rates of depression and anxiety and less caffeine use,” Harris says.


Another reason why Westminster should start school later is because, if it does, the academic performance of students will improve. Dr. Winchester, a teacher from Westmisnter’s science department, states, “Research has consistently shown that grades and standardized test scores increase.” Winchester further explained that “these results are seen even if the start of the school day is delayed by half an hour. The results become even more significant when the school day is delayed by an hour more.” With this academic performance increase, studies have also shown that the graduation rate increases as well. This information could further showcase how Westminster is a great school for families to send their children to if they see that our academic performance is better than it already is.


The last reason why Westminster should start school later than it already is is because there will be less chance of car accidents happening. The two main reasons why teenagers could potentially get into car accidents in the morning is because they are either running late or are sleep deprived and aren’t paying the best attention to the road. However, this can be fixed if school starts later than 7:55. The people of explain, A study done by [the American Academy of Sleep Medicine] showed that a delayed school start time decreased the amount of adolescent motor vehicle crash risk.” If school starts later, we can further secure our students and provide a safer community. also states that schools starting later “could be directly correlated to reduced drowsy driving as well as less rushing to get to school on time from oversleeping.”


There are a few reasons as to why people think that school shouldn’t start later, and one of those reasons is because of childcare. All of the middle school, the freshman class, and a good amount of the sophomore class cannot drive or only have their permit, so it then falls on the parents to get them to school. They argue that if school would start later, they would not be able to get their child(ren) to school because of work. However, there is the chance of one of the parents being a stay-at-home parent, and, because of COVID, there has been an increase of people who work from home and have more flexible schedules. Also, private schools could start using the buses that they use for athletics to also be used for transporting students to and from school.


Another reason as to why people argue that school shouldn’t start later than it is is because they question what will happen to the athletic program at Westminster. It has been scientifically proven that the teenager’s brain is the most active and alert at 4:00 PM, and this would be around the time that athletics would start if school was pushed back to a later time. Winchester states that, through research, other school districts who start later than Westminster “did not experience any major issues with extracurricular activities or sporting events.”Also, there are a lot of Westminster students that play club sports either during their school seasons or out of their school seasons, so they are used to having practice at later times.


One last reason as to why some people don’t want to change Westminster’s start time is because they say that there won’t be enough time to do/finish homework with their childrens’ busy schedules. This would be because if schools start later, then they must end later. However, students technically do have time (or more time) to do their homework because of school starting later. If school were to start at either 8:30 or 9:00 (maybe even at the same time as late start), students would have plenty of time to be able to do their homework.


A solution to the problem of Westminster’s start time is to make a schedule that was similar to the schedule from the 2020-2021 school year. That year, students were able to still gain knowledge and get the information that were needed all while school ended earlier. So, instead of school ending earlier, there could be a change where school started later and classes could be slightly shorter. That way, students can still learn new concepts while getting the sleep that they need, improving their academic performance, and increasing the safety of the community.


If Westminster changed the time that school starts, students’ overall health would improve, which would then lead to their academics improving and their safety improving. They won’t have to wake up as early as they do, and their brains would be able to take in the information that they’re learning. Westminster has been able to function with a shorter school day before, so there is a possibility that they are able to do it again. Winchester concludes that “despite the challenges it presents, we should be willing to adjust the start of the school day in order to allow students to reach their full potential.”