A plethora of published science has shown that starting schools before 8:30 am is damaging to the health of children and teenagers. According to the CDC, "Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks including being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using drugs, as well as poor academic performance." The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also states that symptoms of depression and other mental health illnesses are associated with adolescents not getting enough sleep. This is exaggerated by the adverse effects of the covid-19 pandemic on students social-emotional wellbeing. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all middle and high schools start after 8:30 am.
Across the country, school districts and states are taking action to protect teens' mental and physical health. In California, it is illegal for high schools to start before 8:30 am. Seattle schools moved to start an hour later, at 8:45 am in 2017. Logan and Salt Lake Cities in Utah, made the switch last year starting schools an hour later. Now is the time for Boise Schools to do the same.
Early school start particularly harms already marginalized students. Because buses often come up to an hour before schools start, students without cars or whose parents can't drive them to school have to wake up that much earlier than their peers, disadvantaging their test scores and their peer interactions.
Before the pandemic, Boise Schools assembled a task force to study a transition to healthy school start times. In Spring 2020, the school board was poised to pass a 4-year plan for later school start, but response to covid-19 upended these targets. As a significant factor in the current student mental health crisis, rather than delaying these plans for responsible school start, pandemic response should have accelerated them. As a Boise School District trustee, I show genuine concern about the health and wellbeing of students, parents, and staff, as well as academic and athletic performance. I'll follow CDC guidelines and move to start schools later.