BHSN Earlier Start Times: One More Obstacle

This school year, MCCSC changed the start time for high school from 8:00 am to 7:45 am. This time change affects teachers, staff, students and parents. This paper is going to further explain why there was a shift in start time and what that means for students. More specifically, we will examine how less time in the morning impacts sleep, nutrition, and student energy throughout the day. 

The school communicated the decision to shift starting time at the end of the last school year. A major reason why this decision was made was to eliminate 38 bus routes. The elimination of bus routes was crucial for the school corporation due to a bus driver shortage and around 2,000 additional students riding buses this school year versus last year. The decision was made that less bus routes would be more cost effective and would help alleviate the bus driver shortage. However, with the change in time there are potential outcomes that are less desirable such as earlier start times for students, longer bus rides, and less time for students to sleep, eat, and prepare for school. 

To better understand these outcomes and more, three students from Bloomington North were interviewed to discuss their attitudes towards the time change and their experiences. All of the students interviewed mentioned not being aware of why the decision was made. This can potentially lead to frustrations especially when students are required to get up earlier and potentially be on the bus for longer periods of time. 

One concern facing students is less sleep at night. The general recommendation for children and young adults is 8 hours, while the average reported sleep time among those interviewed was 6 hours, two hours short of the general recommendation. It is important to note, this time change is not the cause of poor sleep. It is an additional obstacle for students to get appropriate sleep. 

Those students interviewed mentioned having enough time to get ready for school, but not having an opportunity to have a good breakfast. Based on the responses we received. the students are coming into school tired and with empty stomachs. These two things do not set the student up for success throughout the day. One of the students mentioned that it goes against scientific evidence that young adults need 8 hours or more of sleep each day. Although we know this time change will not have a significant impact on the students, it will make getting quality sleep and having time to eat a good breakfast a bit more challenging. Some students will face longer bus rides which can lead to less motivation and more frustration to come to school. No matter what, MCCSC and school administration need to keep students aware of the changes that they make, and they must pay special attention to students’ basic needs.