- Associated Press - Saturday, August 8, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska has the latest average school start time in the country, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alaska’s average start time is 8:33 a.m., while only 17 percent of U.S. public schools analyzed in the study started at or later than 8:30 a.m., according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (https://bit.ly/1MfoRdg ).

Later school start times are recommended by health and education researchers. The CDC cites studies that show adolescents who don’t get enough sleep can suffer health consequences like weight gain and depression and are more likely to engage in risk behaviors like drinking and smoking.

“In view of these negative outcomes, the high prevalence of insufficient sleep among high school students is of substantial public health concern,” the CDC report states.

Adolescents need to sleep eight hours each night, but during puberty it can be difficult to fall asleep before 11 p.m., according to the agency.

So the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

In most cases, individual districts determine school start times. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tweeted in support of later start times in 2013, but the federal department doesn’t set any requirements in that area.

Six of the 10 schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District that start before 8:30 a.m. are middle or high schools. Just more than two-thirds of the district’s schools start at that time.

District spokeswoman Sharice Walker said the district staggers its start times to maximize the efficiency of its bus system. The district plans to discuss school start times during this school year, she said.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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