Fairfax County poised to approve later school start times

WASHINGTON — The largest school district in the D.C. area will vote Thursday night on whether to start school later in the morning for some students.

The Fairfax County School Board is expected to pass a plan that will push high school start times to between 8 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. from the current 7:20 a.m.

Mason District Representative Sandy Evans says teenagers need more sleep.

“Our first pickup time is 5:45 a.m., which is way too early. We are increasingly delivering our high school students at 6:45 a.m. This is not good for their health. We know that our teen students are very sleep deprived. Schools that have started high school later see a change in the amount of sleep their teen students get,” she says.

All middle schools will start at 7:30 a.m.; secondary schools will follow the new high school schedule. Elementary school schedules will remain roughly the same.

The plan was developed by the Children’s National Medical Center’s Division of Sleep Medicine. It will cost about $4.9 million in the first year, for 27 additional buses and more drivers. But Evans says that that’s not much considering the Fairfax County Schools’ $2.5 billion budget and the benefits.

“When it comes to our kids’ physical and mental health, this is a bargain.”

If approved, the new times will start in the 2015-2016 school year.

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