Fairfax Co. considers later start time for high schools

FAIRFAX, Va. – Fairfax County Public Schools are considering pushing back high school start times to give students a few more hours of sleep.

The plan is to make all high schools start classes after 8 a.m. Currently, most start at 7:20 a.m.

Terry Eiserman, a high school teacher in Arlington County where start times were moved back several years ago, says she has noticed a big difference in her students.

“My first period kids come in more alert, more likely to be perky,” she said.

Eiserman and others spoke about the issue at a Fairfax County School Board meeting last week.

“It breaks my heart to see my daughter’s school bus arrive every morning at 6:40,” said one man before the board.

“We are asking our kids to do something unhealthy by making them wake up that early,” said another parent.

One of the most vocal groups pushing for the change is Sleep in Fairfax or Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal, a nonprofit organization.

“Nine hours of sleep is recommended for high school-aged children and, in FCPS, two-thirds are sleeping seven or fewer hours on school nights,” Sleep says on its website.

Sleep in Fairfax says most Virginia school systems start at 8 a.m. More than 8,700 people have signed Sleep’s petition that calls for a later school time.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the plan to start classes after 8 a.m. on April 12.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report. Follow Michelle and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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