April 24, 2019
Radnor Township School District board members approved a plan that will implement a later start of the school day at Radnor High School for the 2019-2020 school year.
The board voted 7-2 in favor of changing the beginning of the school day at the high school from 7:35 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. To compensate for the later start, students will be dismissed at 3:04 p.m. instead of 2:27 p.m.
Studies on the effects of starting the school day later have found adolescents should regularly sleep eight to 10 hours for good health. Students who sleep less are more likely to be overweight, show symptoms of depression and perform poorly in school.
Dr. Thanuja Hamilton, a sleep medicine specialist told PhillyVoice in September, that teens' internal clocks naturally tend to be set later – which makes them stay up later – and 7:30 a.m. start times set high school students up to be sleep deprived. That, in turn, reduces creativity, alertness and focus, along with other effects, Hamilton said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a recommendation four years ago that both middle school and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. to allow teens to get the amount of sleep students between the ages of 13 and 18 need. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the 8:30 a.m. start time and says "most American adolescents start school too early."
In the 2011-2012 school year, 42 states reported that most public middle and high schools started before the recommended time, according to the CDC.
Among the other school districts in the area to change start times for next school year are Phoenixville, Unionville-Chaddsford and Tredyffrin-Easttown, all of which will begin their high school day 30 minutes later in fall, according to 6ABC.
Radnor's change at the high school, also impacted school days at the district's middle and elementary schools. Those details can be found here. And Radnor's board members based their decision on the results of a study by a committee created to examine student's sleep and school day start times. That study is available here.