To: Administrators and School Boards of Public Schools in Bucks County, PA
Healthy and Safe School Start Times for Students in Bucks County, PA
For the health and well-being of the students in their care, we ask the school districts of Bucks County, PA, to commit to school hours consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation and to begin the process of working toward them.
Why is this important?
In August of 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with a recommendation that high schools and middle schools start no earlier than 8:30 am. Decades of sleep research has shown that sleep cycles shift when students enter adolescence and that their very biology dictates that they stay up later and sleep later. As a result, many teens are operating on a sleep deficit when school start times are too early.
Early school start times for teens have been shown to have a negative impact on safety, health, and well-being:
• Increased risk of sports injuries
• Increased risk of obesity and diabetes
• Negative impact on stress, depression, and other mental health concerns
• Increased risk of car crashes
• Increase in risky behavior and impaired judgement
School districts around the country that have changed to a later start time for middle school and high school have seen positive outcomes:
• Reduced tardiness
• Fewer absences
• Higher test scores on national achievement tests
• Fewer car crashes
• Better overall health and less depression
• Reduced use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.
In addition to the AAP, this recommendation for healthy school start times has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Education Association, the National Sleep Foundation, the National Association of School Nurses, the Society of Pediatric Nurses, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania, and many other health and educational organizations.
Changing school start times is feasible. Hundreds of school communities in 44 states have found ways to make this happen by prioritizing health and learning. http://www.startschoollater.net/success-stories.html
By signing this petition, you are not endorsing any particular solution to this problem. All you are doing is asking the school boards and administrators of schools in Bucks County, PA to begin the process of investigating a way to implement healthy and safe school start times for all students.