The Lobby Observer

More “Sleep,” Less Time: WHS’s new start time and flex time


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by Gemma Smith and Jalen Worstell

The new start times for Westborough Public Schools have officially been implemented for the beginning of the 2018-19 academic school year after last year’s town vote. The elementary and Mill Pond students now start at 7:30 a.m., while students and teachers from WHS and Gibbons have an extra 40 minutes in the morning.

 

According to administration, the goal of this time change was to improve the sleep schedules for high school students and increase productivity in the morning at school. A later start to the day, however, has also resulted in delaying the end of the day to 2:37 p.m. including a ten minute flex time. This delay has resulted in pushing other responsibilities later in the day for students who have work, family events and sports.

 

So, how do students and administrators feel about this new change so far?

 

Superintendent Bock says “We spent two years on the study of a later school start time, and there’s no doubt that the data we found has really indicated that youth your age, (speaking to high school students) benefit from sleeping later in the morning. I feel certainly, as superintendent of schools, really positive about the change. I do recognize that it’s super hard for some people to adjust to a new schedule when they were content with their past schedules. I knew that when we made the change, it would cause some people discontent, but I decided to be courageous because I don’t think you can read about student depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and do nothing about it. So, I felt really strongly. While it is challenging, it was still important for us to do. I’m not surprised at the negative comments and emails I am receiving about finding it hard to adjust (such as the bus schedule), but we will be tweaking all the minor details and overall, I am really pleased.”

 

For those students who do not drive, complaints about the bus schedules have risen. Some middle school students begin waiting for the bus at 7:30 a.m., but can expect the bus to come as late as 8:00 a.m.This is a major hassle every morning since there is no guarantee that the bus will be on time.

 

“I now have to leave my house at 7:35 a.m. even though it’s only for a seven minute commute, sheerly due to the fact that traffic is so bad at the rotary as it gets closer to 8:10 p.m.,” says WHS senior Sam Anzede.

 

WHS senior Jordan Connolly also added  “all people going to work in the morning leave at the exact same time, meaning it takes longer for a single intersection.”

 

The flex time is another item that has sparked an initial debate through the school. Out of a survey we composed of 45 WHS students, only seven claimed to use the flex time or activities such as Student Council, or for getting ready for a game later on. For those other 41 students, they all agreed that the flex time at the end of the day has not been beneficial to them.

 

“The time change helps me in the morning, yet the rest of the day feels as though it goes by slower and makes it harder for me to work. I cannot babysit Mill Pond kids since they get out earlier than us, and I have to work later in general as a result of getting out later,” says WHS senior Taylor Connolly.

 

When asked about the flex time, Superintendent Bock comments, “Well I have worked in a lot of different districts, a lot of them have targeted study or directed study or more drop blocks and we don’t have that. The high schoolers and middleschooles are in a pretty structured day, you come in and the periods are back to back and you get everything done. I am actually quite a fan of any kind of flexibility that allows young adults to have more self-direction, and I think that’s healthy.”

Overall, the intended goal of this ten minute frame according to the school is to allow students to have more time to meet with teachers; however, students can usually meet with teachers after school, regardless of having a designated time for this or not.

 

Hopefully over the school year, the new time will become a preferred idea by the students and administrators, and the Westborough Public Schools will be able to plan accordingly.

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More “Sleep,” Less Time: WHS’s new start time and flex time