May 27, 2022 - News

School District of Philadelphia punts on plan to push start times

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The School District of Philadelphia is delaying its move to shift start times for students in grades six through 12 next school year.

Driving the news: The ongoing bus driver shortage would have prevented the district from equitably shifting all 56 high schools and middle schools to a 9am start time and bell schedule starting this fall, superintendent William Hite said in a statement this week.

  • Yes, but: Individual schools can potentially move forward with a delayed start time in the new school year, with permission from the district.

Flashback: The district began standardizing start and end times for schools in the fall of 2021, in part to reduce the amount of time students were on buses and to ensure buses were on time more often, Hite said.

Between the lines: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that students in grades six through 12 start school at 8:30am or later.

  • Later start times allow these students to have sufficient sleep and contribute to physical and mental health, safety and academic achievement, according to the AAP.

What's next: The district is now planning to implement the later start times for the 2023-24 school year, depending on the district's bus staffing levels.

  • "We remain fully committed to our ultimate goal of shifting all of our high schools and middle/high schools to start times that align with AAP recommendations," Hite said.

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