To Improve Kids’ Mental Health, Some Schools Start Later

The AP published this piece by Brooke Schultz on the switch to later start times at one high school in Pennsylvania — and others around the country — in efforts to give kids more sleep and boost their moods: 

“In the hours before he’s due at Upper Darby High School, senior Khalid Doulat has time to say prayers, help his mother or prepare for track practice.

It’s a welcome shift from last year for him and thousands of students at the school, which pushed its start time back by more than two hours — from a 7:30 a.m. start time to 9:45 a.m. One goal for the change: to ease strains on students that were more visible than ever coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘I’ll be honest, I’ve been much happier in the mornings,’ Doulat said. ‘I’ve been more positive, and I’ve come to school smiling more rather than, you know, grudging out of bed and stuff like that at 7:30.’

The idea of later school start times, pushed by many over the years as a way to help adolescents get more sleep, is getting a new look as a way to address the mental health crisis affecting teens across the U.S. . . . 

During the pandemic, soaring numbers of high school students expressed persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, with girls and LGBTQ+ youth reporting the highest levels of poor mental health and suicide attempts. It doesn’t help that research suggests middle and high school students aren’t getting enough sleep. . . . 

Nationally, at least nine states are considering legislation related to school start times, up from four the previous year, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. California in 2019 became the first and only state to dictate school start times.

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Upper Darby High School student Khalid Doulat, 18. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)


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  1. I really enjoyed reading this article about schools starting later to improve kids’ mental health. It’s great to see that schools are recognizing the importance of sleep and the impact it can have on students’ well-being. I think it’s a positive step towards a more holistic approach to education. It’s also interesting to see how some schools have managed to make this change despite logistical and financial challenges. It shows a real commitment to the well-being of their students.

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