WEST CHESTER, PA — The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved state Senator Andy Dinniman’s resolution calling for a study on the benefits and impacts of instituting later start times to the school day in secondary schools.
“We know that our children, especially adolescents and teenagers, need sufficient sleep to learn, grow, and reach their highest potential,” Dinniman who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said. “Unfortunately, we also know too many students are simply not getting enough sleep and there’s a growing body of research about its negative impact on education and health. As more and more schools consider pushing back start times, it’s important that legislative leaders fully understand the issues at stake.”
Senate Resolution 417 establishes an advisory committee under the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to study and report on later school start times, including an assessment of the health, academic and safety benefits associated with them, as well as any potential negative impacts.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that adolescents receive 8 – 10 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended middle and high schools aim for start times that allow students to receive the recommended amount of sleep.
Furthermore, research has shown that adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from physical and mental health problems, suicide ideation, and are at an increased risk of being involved in an automobile accident and are more likely to decline in academic performance.
Dinniman said the study was prompted by a growing movement throughout the Commonwealth and the nation to institute later school start times to help ensure students get adequate sleep in preparation for the school day.
This year the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board pushed back start times for middle and high schools by 25 minutes, from 7:35 a.m. to 8 a.m. In addition, elementary classes are starting 15 minutes later, at 9:10 a.m. instead of 8:55 a.m.
The resolution calls for the commission to issue a report within 12 months of its enactment. It will now go to the Senate floor for final vote.
Source: Andrew E. Dinniman (D), Pennsylvania State Senate, Senate District 19
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