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Keene high, middle school students can sleep later starting in 2020

Union Leader Correspondent

October 10. 2018 9:31PM
Students in the Keene School District will soon get extra sleep after the Board of Education voted to push back start times for the high school and middle school starting in 2020. (Damien Fisher/Union Leader Correspondent)

KEENE — Keene High School and middle school students will be able to stay in bed a little later, starting in the 2020 school year after the Board of Education decided to move back school start times for the older students.

The move comes after years of grassroots efforts in Keene to move back the start time, based on scientific findings about teen sleep and health.

“Teens — ages 13 and into college — scientifically have a different sleep cycle,” said George Downing, school board chairman. “Their bodies want to get up later and stay in bed later.”

After Superintendent Robert Malay led a study into the sleep issue over the past year and a half, the board voted to make the change starting in the 2020-21 school year.

“It’s hard to ignore the research out there,” Malay said.

Teens who get more sleep and are able to deal with school work during their natural waking hours perform better academically and have better mental health, Downing said.

Starting in the 2020 school year, high school and middle school students won’t start any earlier than 8:30 a.m. and and no later than 9 a.m. The elementary school students in the district won’t start any earlier than 8 a.m.

Currently, high school students report in at 7:20 a.m., middle schoolers at 7:45 a.m., and the elementary schools at 8:25 a.m.

Downing said the total instructional hours in the school day will remain the same because students will be released later in the day.

Keene has the high school, middle school and four elementary schools. It also has seven other school districts within the SAU 29 district, and an additional four other sending districts not part of the SAU, Malay said. Delaying the change until 2020 will allow the other districts to plan accordingly.

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