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Missoula High Schools May Shift School Start Time Over Sleepy Student Concerns

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Missoula County High Schools may change the time classes begin as soon as next year. This week, Missoula County Public School District One Superintendent Mark Thane says he and School trustees reviewed recommendations from groups like the CDC and the American Medical Association concerning the unique circadian rhythms of teenagers.

“The premise is that High School students simply cannot fall asleep as early as we would like them to, to get the optimal amount of sleep,” Thane said. “Millions of high school students across the country are actually  suffering from sleep deprivation, which effects executive functioning, cognitive skills, social and emotional skills…  even things like suicide risk are impacted.”

Now, work is underway to identify and overcome potential hurdles to shifting the start time. Thane says Missoula’s bus system and student needs are an issue of concern.

“Some of our high school students have after school work obligations, some of them care for younger siblings after school, etc.,” Thane said. “So part of our conversation was being more nimble and flexible also and maybe we have opportunities for students who want to start school earlier, maybe in a zero period and finish a little earlier. One size does not necessarily fit all.”

The goal is to have high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and a change could be made as early as Fall of 2018.

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