January 16, 2018

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Winnipeg School Division looking into letting sleeping teens lie a little longer

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT</p></p>

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT

Hush, little high school student, don't say a word, a school trustee's not gonna get you a mockingbird — but she may get you more sleep.

Winnipeg School Division Trustee Cathy Collins has put forward a notice of motion, to Monday's school board meeting, asking the division's administration for a report on the pros and cons of letting high school students start school at a later time than younger students.

As well, Collins also wants the administration to do a survey of the parents of high school students to see if they'd also be in agreement to delay the beginning of high school from the current 9 a.m.

"We always want our students to achieve and we're concerned with graduation rates, but if they're tired when they go to school it effects them and it's also a strain on teachers," Collins said.

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Hush, little high school student, don't say a word, a school trustee's not gonna get you a mockingbird — but she may get you more sleep.

Winnipeg School Division Trustee Cathy Collins has put forward a notice of motion, to Monday's school board meeting, asking the division's administration for a report on the pros and cons of letting high school students start school at a later time than younger students.

As well, Collins also wants the administration to do a survey of the parents of high school students to see if they'd also be in agreement to delay the beginning of high school from the current 9 a.m.

"We always want our students to achieve and we're concerned with graduation rates, but if they're tired when they go to school it effects them and it's also a strain on teachers," Collins said.

"I haven't done extensive research, but the subject comes up periodically. I thought, why don't we check it out?"

Collins said the administration would look into all of the issues surrounding a later time to start school including how it would effect busing students to and from school, after school sports teams, and teaching hours and contracts.

The motion, which will be automatically referred to the next school board meeting in January to come up for debate, asks that the administration's report and the results of the survey go to the board's policy/program committee for review.

Collins also included with her motion two links, one to an article in Psychology Today entitled 'Sleep Deprivation Impairs Adolescents' Cognitive Performance' and the other to a Globe and Mail article with the headline 'Delaying school start times gives students better chance of success: study'.

The Globe story, published last April, pointed to a study in the Journal of Sleep Research that found one-third of Canadian students between the ages of 10 and 18 did not get enough sleep, with about 60 per cent reporting they were still tired when they went to school.

Teens between 14 and 17 are supposed to get eight to 10 hours of sleep, so the study stated that if schools started an extra hour later, the teens would get 10 minutes more sleep and they would be more likely to reach the minimum amount of sleep needed.

Cameron Johnson, vice principal of Collège Jeanne-Sauvé, said the 600-plus Grade 9 to 12 students there get to sleep in once a week during the school year.

Johnson said his high school, and others in the Louis Riel School Division, start on Wednesdays at 9:45 a.m., more than an hour after the regular starting time of 8:30 a.m., so that teachers can liaise with other teachers at the school or other schools on projects and other work. Students still get all of their classes that day, but they are each trimmed to 45 minutes in length so they can be discharged at the regular time of 3:45 p.m.

"The impact will be felt in the classes in the short term," he said.

"The teachers can't use the time for grading exams or papers."

Johnson can't say if the students are less sleep deprived or more wide awake when they come to school that day but "we haven't had any complaints from students.

"I think the students appreciate it."

Collins said she can't remember whether she would have appreciated more sleep when she was a high school students "many years ago", but she said she knows her nieces and nephews would.

"I know one had a hard time to get up and didn't function before noon," she said.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

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