Middle, high school to start later in 2023-24

Junior+Amelia+Zheng+walks+into+school+on+May+5.+The+middle+and+high+school+start+time+will+be+at+8%3A30+a.m.+daily.

Carter Chang

Junior Amelia Zheng walks into school on May 5. The middle and high school start time will be at 8:30 a.m. daily.

Ryan Clark, Opinion Editor

School for middle and high school students will begin at 8:30 a.m. starting in the 2023-24 school year, Laboratory Schools Director Tori Jueds stated in a May 4 email in which she explained that she had accepted the recommendation of the Healthy Start Committee.

This important task will inevitably involve difficult choices and tradeoffs, and I’m grateful to the educators leading this work for their appreciation of its complexity and their support of our students,” Ms. Jueds wrote in the email, which was sent to the Lab community.

The committee, which formed in June 2021, recommends that the school day end no later than 3:30 p.m. to prevent conflicts with after-school activities. The committee also published a report of the recommendations, which is available online.

“I feel positive about the result of the work that the committee completed,” said counselor Camille Baughn-Cunningham, who was a member of the Healthy Start Committee. “I think we have known, and research has told us for quite some time actually, that starting school as little as a half hour later could have a meaningful impact on particularly our high school students.”

I think it’s going to make a significant difference in terms of alertness and attention in the earlier part of the day.”

— Laura Doto

Committee member Laura Doto, a high school learning coordinator, expressed similar support for the recommendation. 

“The 8:30 start is actually better aligned to adolescents’ circadian rhythms and changing bodies and biochemistry, and so I think it’s going to make a significant difference in terms of alertness and attention in the earlier part of the day,” Ms. Doto said, while qualifying that students must also have healthy evening routines to benefit from the later start time.

Ninth grader Isabella Alvarez will still be at U-High when the change is implemented and said that she believes a 30-minute change is the right amount.

“I think we’ll get a bit more sleep, and even the 8:20 start time is helpful, so I’d imagine this 8:30 start time would be helpful,” Isabella said.

On the contrary, ninth grader Leon Bordelon, who goes by Asa, opposes the new start time.

“I don’t like it because I think it would just make the whole day get pushed back, and it would be basically the same, just a bit later,” Asa said.

In her email, Ms. Jueds also stated that future topics of inquiry into student wellness will include sleep and homework.