Sleep, Science and the Somerville Public School Schedule

Somerville, MA:

Like many other school district administrators, her primary concern revolves around logistics. “One of the challenges is meeting the needs of all students,” [Superintendent] Skipper says. “A later start time would then mean that they’re getting out later. That cuts into areas such as sports. We also have a number of students who have work obligations in the after-school hours. A number of our students are caretakers, helping out with an elderly relative or with their siblings. Time is finite, so these are all the things you have to look at.”

Pediatrician Terence McAllister is aware of the issues that a later start time would pose, but believes that school administrators will have to tackle the challenges head-on.

“They’re very valid concerns, the logistics of switching school times is a huge hurdle to overcome,” he says. “But when you look at the downside of making these kids sleep deprived, it’s something that’s truly necessary. The science really backs that up.”

“These would be really big changes in the traditions that a lot of schools have, but again, when the school start times the way they are now are not healthy, are not good for adolescents, then we have to find some sort of solution, even though it will be very difficult,” McAllister says.

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