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Students Head Back To School, Some With New Start Times

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This Tuesday morning, summer is over for hundreds of thousands of Minnesota school children.

The day after Labor Day traditionally marks the first day of school for many students in the state, although some school districts have pushed the start time to different days. Minneapolis went back to school last week, for instance.

On Tuesday, some of the state's largest districts -- Anoka-Hennepin, St. Paul -- and most other school districts head back.

The new school year always comes with its adjustments, and for some students that means adapting to a new schedule as more districts look to shift start times to benefit the district, the students, or both.

At Highland Park High School in St. Paul, students will stick to their normal start times this year. However, the new ones kick in during the 2019-2020 school year. At Johnson High School, they made the switch back in 2015.

Once the district adopts the change across the board, high schools and middle schools will get pushed back an hour, to start at 8:30 a.m. Elementary schools that once started at 8:30 will get pushed up to 7:30, and elementary schools that started at 9:30 will stay the same.

This is all part of a gradual but increasingly popular shift happening in several districts around Minnesota.

There are two main reasons behind it. First, a state-wide student survey revealed most teenagers are getting between 6 and 7 hours of sleep, when doctors advise they get 8-10 hours a night. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics support pushing school start times back, citing health issues like obesity, inattentiveness and depression as the main concerns.

Money is another motivator for some districts, including Minneapolis Public Schools. It decided to change 20 schools' start times for this school year to consolidate bus schedules. The district estimates it will save $2 million this year.

Despite the health and budget benefits, St. Paul Public Schools are taking feedback on some parents's concerns. Some parents who have kids in two different schools all of a sudden might have to juggle two or even three different start times.

Childcare before or after school is an issue for some people, as are after-school activities for those who get out of school late.

As for safety, we're starting to get into that 7 a.m. sunrise territory, and having a 10-year-old walk to the bus stop in the dark isn't ideal for many families.


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