New Start Time Recommendations Poses Problems for Extracurricular Activities

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New Start Time Recommendations Poses Problems for Extracurricular Activities

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In November of 2018, VBCPS recommended changing the start times for all students, mostly for the benefit of high schoolers who were not getting enough sleep. On Tuesday, October 8, Daniel Keever, senior executive director for high schools in VBCPS, released recommended start and end times for the 2020-2021 school year. The school board would still need to finalize their approval before the time changes would go into effect. 

 

The recommended times are as follows:

  • Elementary A schools: 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Elementary B schools: 8:00 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Middle schools: 8:40 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.
  • High schools: 9:20 a.m. – 4:10 p.m.

 

However, the plan is meeting resistance from both students and staff. 

 

“It would push everything back,” said Brian Webb, marching band director. The marching band practices in the afternoons after school ends. “We’re used to starting at 2:30, 2:45. We wouldn’t be able to get started until 4:30. We do a three-hour rehearsal, that means [we’re all] here until 7:30. What do we do for dinner? Do we feed these people?” 

 

Webb also spoke about how the change would affect the teachers and how they would need to adjust. “I’m used to getting up really early. It’s going to be a strange adjustment to starting later and having to teach later. It’s been 20 years of starting in the morning and ending at 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s a big mind and physical adjustment,” he said. “It’s one of those I’m kind of going to have to wait and see. The argument is made that kids do better when they’re able to sleep later, but when they’re given the opportunity to come in later, are they actually going to take advantage of it or are they still going to show up late?”

 

Kevin Ber, a counselor and football coach spoke about the change, recognizing that it would be an adjustment but may have a good outcome. “I think our practices would definitely get changed. Right now, practices end around 5:15 so students can catch the activity bus,” he said. “The thing I would worry about is we certainly wouldn’t want to practice too much later because they are student athletes. They still need to do homework, eat, and obviously rest. This is definitely not impossible but would need some further planning.”

The argument is made that kids do better when they’re able to sleep later, but when they’re given the opportunity to come in later, are they actually going to take advantage of it or are they still going to show up late?”

— Brian Webb

 

“It would definitely take some getting used to and some flexibility, especially with the first group of seniors that’ll go through. They would have had the most time with the old schedule. It will definitely alter their after school lives,” Ber continued. “I think it would be more flexible for teachers because we don’t have after school jobs – this is our job – but we do have after school functions. It will affect childcare so [there would need to be] rearranging for that.” 

 

Overall, Ber was very hopeful, citing that like everything, there are pros and cons. “There’ll need to be an adjustment period. Once it becomes the ‘norm,’ you might not remember what it was like in the past. Until it actually happens, I don’t know if I could say I’m for or against it at this point. I just think it’s different. We’re trying to benefit the community.”

 

David Springstead, a security guard and the drama club director, was not too happy with the change, saying he will lose many members of his club. “It will affect the drama program greatly because I already have students coming to me saying if they move the times back they will not be able to participate anymore,” Springstead said. “I have students who have jobs they go to after our rehearsals. If they move the time back any more than right now, I have kids who are not going to be able to participate in anything.” 

 

The school board is suggesting another survey with the option for start times to remain the same be distributed. Once those results come in, they will vote. This is expected to happen in November.

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