2020-21 school year features later start times for middle, high schools

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Cady Armstrong

Junior Marina Saweeros begins to complete her homework at the start of  late start last spring. According to Saweeros, she likes late start as it is an opportunity to see friends.

Cady Armstrong

On May 18, the CCS school board passed a resolution moving all CCS middle schools’  as well as CHS’s start times later in the day from 7:50 and 7:45, respectively, to 8:45 a.m. With this, the academic day will end at 3:45 p.m. instead of 3:05 p.m. for these CCS campuses. Additionally, CCS elementary schools will start at 7:50 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than it was previously. However, the elementary school day will still end at 2:30 p.m. 

Junior Marina Saweeros works on homework during late start. According to Saweeros, late start delaying the day lets students catch up on work.

The extra 15 minutes will be added to the recess block, doubling the time devoted to this from 15 to 30 minutes. 

The board also approved district-wide “late start” days where the school day will start 40 minutes late twice a month to give teachers more time to collaborate and prepare. The academic day will be delayed for all students participating in the district’s hybrid option, regardless of whether or not they are learning virtually or in-person on the day of late start. Additionally, the district plans to offer free childcare for students in kindergarten through eighth grade on those days for parents who can’t adjust their work schedules to accommodate the delayed start. 

According to Junior Marina Saweeros, late start being applied to all students regardless of whether or not students are physically in school is a good thing. 

Saweeros said, “I’m really grateful that late start will apply to everyone at CHS because even if I am virtually learning that day, I still get the benefit of sleeping in late start brings, even later with late start delaying the day’s start to 9:45 a.m.” 

The CCS school board discussed and passed this resolution to change CCS campuses’ start times 4-1 at a school board meeting held via zoom, with school board member Pam Knowles voting against the majority. 

According to Superintendent Michael Beresford, while the resolution passed, it did come with mixed opinions from members of the Carmel community. 

Beresford said, “This is a big change and there are mixed opinions on both sides of every recommended change. Big changes like these are difficult and bring out many thoughts and emotions, what has been positive is that we are discussing and debating the issues and trying to decide what is best for our kids. In the long run, I believe working the process together makes us better.”

Junior Marina Saweeros walks up the trait to CHS from the football stadium last spring. Saweeros said, “I enjoy walking to school in the morning because it clears my mind and resets my mood before a long day of school. Last year, I rarely got to do that out of fear of being late but now this year I will get to walk to school everyday and I’m excited to do so.”

Furthermore, according to Saweeros, later start times will reduce tardiness and let students take their time getting to school.

Saweeros said, “(In the mornings), there’s just so much traffic that you basically have to leave at the same time buses leave. I rode with my friends last year and almost every time I worried about getting to class on time while I was walking up the trail. Now, I feel like I can take my time and enjoy the walk to school without the fear of being tardy.”

According to board member Pam Knowles, she ultimately voted against the resolution for multiple reasons but was not against the entire proposal. 

“(First), I felt that most of the responses sent in after the board meeting where this was a discussion topic were in favor of a later start time for the secondary schools but not to lengthen the elementary school day,” Knowles said via E-Mail. “(Also, at the time of the vote),  I had just read that the state had spent around $1 billion dollars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that it was thought the state’s reserves would be gone by the end of August.  (With this), I didn’t think it was a good idea to spend additional dollars on this proposal not knowing what the future held.”

The resolution that ultimately passed was slightly different than what was originally proposed. When the board originally discussed the idea of changing start times at a board meeting, elementary schools were to start at 7:50 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m., adding 30 minutes to the academic school day. The 30 minutes were to add 15 minutes to recess and devote 15 minutes for S.T.E.M. enrichment learning time. In the proposal that passed, the 15 minutes moving the end of school day back for S.T.E.M. was not included. 

According to Beresford, the decision to pursue changes to the school day now came after many years of debate.

Beresford said via E-Mail, “The administrative team has studied these ideas for almost four years and believe these recommendations are in the best interests of our students.” 

For junior Zoe “Zoey” Foley, even though later start times will push marching band practice back, it is worth the benefits that come with later start times. 

Junior Marina Saweeros works on homework during late start last spring. According to Saweeros, it is fun to work on homework with friends during late while also working on homework.

Foley said, “I am worried because this means that our practice times will change. After school, we started practice at 4 p.m., ending at 6 p.m. If we have later times does this mean that practice ends at 7 p.m. Despite this, we will not shrink away from our duty of excellence and I think that with the pandemic in full swing, this was a smart time to make the change, because it is like everyone is hitting a restart button. I feel prepared for it.”

Saweeros agreed with Foley that the change was inevitable. 

Saweeros said, “With so much recent research and studies supporting schools starting later, I knew it was only a matter of time until the school board made the change.”

 

 

 

 

 

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