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To: Superintendent of South Brunswick School District, South Brunswick Board of Education members

Start SBHS at 8.30am or later!

Start SBHS at 8.30am or later!

Problem:
Our teens in the South Brunswick High School are chronically sleep deprived. One main factor is that the South Brunswick High School currently starts at 7.30am which means that children have to wake up at least at 6am to get to school on time. Adolescents experience a circadian rhythm or “sleep phase shift” that inhibits them from falling asleep before 11 pm, and keeps their brains in “sleep mode” until about 8 am.

Adolescents who start school too early in the morning face significant health and academic risks. The single best way to address this is to start middle and high schools at 8:30 a.m. or later, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and other major public health groups.

FACT: The hormones that regulate sleep make it difficult for teens to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Teens may be more “awake” at 10 p.m. than they are earlier in the day. These same hormones make it very difficult for teens to wake and be alert in the early morning.

FACT: More than 70% of US teenagers don't get the recommended amount of sleep.

FACT: Sleep debt affects mood, particularly among teenagers. Millions of adolescents are despondent, an increasing number on medication for depression.

FACT: Sleep debt affects teens’ ability to think, perform and react appropriately. High school teachers report very low alertness levels in the first classes of the day.

Why is this important?

The research is clear: adolescent sleep deprivation is directly linked to increased rates of depression, suicide ideation, drug and alcohol use, and car accidents, weight gain and eating disorders and increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes; reduced immunity . Sleep deprivation also undermines academic performance and increases tardies, absences and behavioral issues at school. And teen athletes who get inadequate sleep are more likely to get injured.

Families with fixed work schedules or lacking transportation aren't able to help their kids if they miss the bus and thus put their children at risk of tardiness or absence. As a result, children from disadvantaged backgrounds not only risk higher rates of tardiness and truancy, but also higher rates of dropping out of school - potentially increasing the achievement gap.

Our Request:

We request our School district to prioritize the health of our children above all other activities and proactively change the South Brunswick high school start time to 8.30am or later to allow them to get enough sleep on school days.

Almost all our high schoolers are chronically sleep deprived and a change to a later start time will help them get the sleep they need to function properly and significantly improve their physical and mental health and consequently their academic and athletic performance.

We understand that a change to later High School start times has many barriers but if we prioritize the health of our students, we can definitely overcome them. Our neighboring district of Princeton recently moved to a later start time and overcome many of the same issues as our district.

Our School district is currently considering transitioning to a three tier system for bussing and consequently changing the start times for various schools in the district and this will be the best opportunity to implement a later school start time for SBHS and will have a tremendous effect on the wellbeing of our students!

Additional Information:
1. Dr. Bert Mandelbaum (Chair - Department of Pediatrics, Princeton Medical Center, Chair NJAAP Task Force on Adolescence Health and School Start Times, School Physician for Montgomery, Hillsborough, North Brunswick and Chapin) in conversation with Ray Pinney of NJSBA - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwJ2l3hZHDA
2. How Princeton School district did it - https://www.njsba.org/news-publications/school-leader/november-december-2019-vol-50-no-3/11-steps-to-a-later-start-time/
3. Learn more about why we should move to later start times and those who have done it successfully - www.startschoollater.net

Why is this important?

Please sign this petition to help our teenagers get the sleep they need to stay physically and mentally healthy and perform better academically!

Updates

2022-02-22 19:28:37 -0500

100 signatures reached

2022-02-22 18:45:42 -0500

50 signatures reached

2022-02-22 18:25:21 -0500

25 signatures reached

2022-02-22 18:15:03 -0500

10 signatures reached