Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal (SLEEP) sign now

We, the undersigned, request that Fairfax County Public Schools create a daily schedule with reasonable start times for all FCPS students. We urge FCPS to start middle schools and high schools after 8:15 a.m.

Middle school and high school students in Fairfax County are not getting enough sleep because the school day starts too early. Buses typically deliver students to FCPS high schools around 7 a.m. for a 7:20 a.m. start.

FACT: The hormones that regulate sleep make it difficult for teens to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Teens may be more awake at 10 p.m. than they are earlier in the day. These same hormones make it very difficult for teens to wake and be alert in the early morning.

FACT: Adolescents need an average of 9 hours of sleep per night. U.S. teens actually average 7 hours of sleep per night.

FACT: Sleep debt affects mood, particularly among teenagers. Millions of adolescents are despondent, an increasing number on medication for depression.

FACT: Sleep debt affects teens ability to think, perform and react appropriately. High school teachers report very low alertness levels in the first classes of the day.

FACT: FCPS high school students get out shortly after 2 p.m. under the current schedule, and many are in unsupervised situations all afternoon. This provides more incentive and opportunities for problem behavior.

FACT: Research shows many benefits from later secondary school start times. These include decreases in teen depression, teen car accidents, teen behavior problems and absentee and dropout rates.

We note that barriers to a later start time have been identified in the past but believe that all of them can be overcome once the political will to do so is clear. Among those issues are juggling bus schedules without major cost increases, rescheduling extracurricular activities, reconfiguring before- and after-school care for younger children, accommodating high school student work schedules, consideration of teacher and administrator preferences and overcoming a general resistance to change.
We believe that the school system should first consider what is best for the educational needs of Fairfax County students and find solutions to logistical or scheduling problems that conflict with a more rational schedule.
Adolescents need a school schedule that accommodates their sleep patterns and has them in class at times when they are mentally alert. The current schedule is detrimental to their health, well-being and academic performance. We believe that later start times for middle school and high school will help our students achieve their highest academic potential, while improving their emotional health and reducing behavior problems.
We urge the Fairfax County School Superintendent, the School Board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to act as quickly as possible to make this important change on behalf of our students.

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Barry LindseyBy:
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Petition target:
Fairfax County School Board, School Superintendent and Board of Supervisors

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