Next fall, when NOVA Middle School opens the 2019-2020 school year, it will do so 30 minutes later. Beginning in September 2019, classes will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the school day will conclude at 3:15 p.m.
“We have considered this change for several years,” said Head of School Barbara Mitchell Hutton. She cited a growing body of research that identifies a start time of 8:30 or later as beneficial for cognitive and emotional development in middle school students. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine all support later starts.
After study and recommendation from a faculty task force, NOVA collected feedback from current families who were returning in the fall. Sixty-eight percent of respondents were in favor of the change, while 22 percent disagreed with the idea. The main argument against a later start was the burden it would impose on parents who needed to be at work at 8:00 a.m. To address this concern, NOVA will provide a morning program from 7:45 – 8:15 a.m. in which students will have supervised quiet space.
Hutton noted that the Olympia School District has formed a task force to reevaluate school start, while Seattle Public Schools adopted this district-wide last year.
“Ultimately,” said Hutton, “it’s about doing what’s best for the students. This change is responsive to both science and our observations.”