First on WTOP: Fairfax Co. considers later start time for middle schoolers

Middle schoolers in Fairfax County, Virginia, would get to sleep in a bit longer as part of a plan under consideration that would change the time classes start.

The state’s largest school division is exploring the possibility of starting middle school classes at 8 a.m. or later, it said. Currently, middle schools in the county start classes at 7:30 a.m.

The proposed change, school board member Melanie Meren said, comes after students and parents have advocated for later start times.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve heard from parents and students and staff that students in middle school: They need that time to get up and get their brain going, before they come into school ready to learn,” Meren told WTOP.

In September, the school division gave a contract to the company Prismatic Services Inc. to create a plan for the change in middle school start times. In January, the company is expected to brief the school board on how the change could be implemented.

The goal is for the new start time to be in place for the 2025-26 school year, the school system said. The change would be made without affecting high school start times or the school division’s budget, it said.

“As a middle school parent myself, with lots of friends with their students in middle school, I can say that this has been resoundingly well received,” Meren said. “I’ve heard a ton of great feedback. Parents and students are really eager for this kind of change to happen.”

The change will impact staff schedules and transportation, Meren said, and could also make it safer for students at bus stops.

“In the winter months when the sun is not yet up, it can be dangerous for students to be out on sidewalks or in some places where it’s not as safe of a buffer from cars,” Meren said. “So it’s a safety interest, and it’s also just a biological need for their kids that they (parents) see, that their children need to sleep more at that age.”

In October 2014, the school board voted to have high schools start classes at 8 a.m. or later for the 2015-16 academic year. After that change, middle school start times moved up to 7:30 a.m.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up