Derry Township School District seeking to push back school start times for middle, high school students

DERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - A Dauphin County School District is looking to push back school start times for middle and high school students. Derry Township School District officials say the current 7:40 a.m. start time is leaving students exhausted.

The dreaded early morning alarm is a sound students in the district may not have to hear until later in the morning.

"We're expecting them to come in and be exhausted and not at their best," said Superintendent Joseph McFarland.

McFarland is looking to revamp the district's school day for the 21-22 school year, with later start times.

"We are not matching their biological sleep patterns," said McFarland.

Now, a committee of parents, teachers, administrators, and board members will look into the logistics of changing middle and high school start times to about 8:30 a.m., which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A later start time allows schools to better match the biological sleep patterns of students. The National Sleep Foundation says teens naturally don't fall asleep until after 11 at night, and need 8-10 hours of sleep to function best.

"I am not a person about being soft, we need to create resiliency in our kids and we need to do the best we can," said McFarland. "However, if we have this research, this is not being soft on them this is just trying to meet their needs so they can be the best they can be."

McFarland says there will be some challenges regarding after-school activities and childcares, but they will look to other districts in the state that have changed their start times.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.