Next week, Eden Prairie Schools will share with staff and parents/guardians planned school start times for the 2021-22 school year, and a process for public comment on the new times. The plans come after months of study, including a task force of parents/guardians, staff and community members. The task force recommended that Eden Prairie High School’s start time align with the research showing better health and school outcomes for teenagers who start later in the morning.
The timing is right because a number of changes are happening next school year. Sixth-grade students will join their middle-level peers at Central Middle School. The middle school will run with a new, eight-period daily schedule. Preschool for four-year-olds moves into neighborhood elementary schools. All of these adjustments affect student transportation, which is connected to the times that schools start and end.
Sleep science shows that teenagers’ internal sleep rhythms change, which makes it harder for them to get enough sleep on weeknights when they have to rise early for school. The research with younger children points to greater flexibility in their sleep patterns until adolescence. Many studies identify a connection between later high school start times and better mental health reports, lower incidents of distracted driving and crashes, a reduction in risk-taking behaviors and improved focus in school.
For more information, a variety of resources have been posted to Eden Prairie Schools’ Start and End Times Study webpage.