Hudson Valley Parent

HVP August 2017

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16 Hudson Valley Parent n August 2017 a school time change can expect to double transportation costs. Standard transportation practice among school districts is to use the same buses to transport K-12, with teenage students delivered first and then doubling back for the younger grades. Pushing back high school start times sometimes require doubling the fleet, especially if parents are not keen on grades co-mingling. Rhinebeck solved this problem by shortening time between classes to three minutes and shortening third period by three minutes so one fleet of buses can still handle all three schools. Hoping for success Phelan says, "As a precaution, the Rhinebeck school district specifically underwent a pilot program to allow ourselves the option to go back to the way it was before or explore other options." Overall the pilot has been considered a success by the school community and parents and as of now Rhinebeck plans to continue the program. Interestingly, Phelan and the Rhinebeck School Board did not cite academic achievement as the leading motivator behind changing start times. "We were after a social and emotional impact on our learners which is very difficult to measure," explains Phelan. "We wanted our students to feel better about school." Expert opinions According to the AAP, most children shift to a "night owl" tendency during puberty due to a change in circadian rhythms. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) explains that circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. They are important in determining sleep patterns, so a change in these cycles leaves adolescents falling asleep later and experiencing daytime sleepiness. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that societal demands, such as early school start times, and biological changes put teens on a later sleep-wake clock. As a result, when it is time to wake up for school, the adolescent's body says it is still the middle of the night, and they have had too little sleep to feel rested and alert. Academically speaking, sleep deprivation leads to inability to concentrate, retain information, problem solve and sometimes can mimic ADHD. The NSF cites personal and societal problems linked to teen sleep deprivation include increased risk of "drowsy driving, emotional and behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, poor impulse control and violence, health complaints, and tobacco and alcohol use." CATCHING MORE Z'S (Continued from Page 15)

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