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Radnor Joins Trend Toward Later School Start Times

It becomes the first district in the Philadelphia suburbs to adopt the 8:30am start time recommended by the CDC and other medical groups.

Sleepy students aren't productive students.

Radnor Township School District has joined the growing list of local high schools to start classes later so kids can get more sleep.

Radnor High School students will start classes at 8:30am in the fall, 55 minutes later than this year, the school board decided last night.

Other school districts, such as PhoenixvilleTredyffrin-Easttown and Unionville, all in Chester County, PA, have already adopted later start times.

But while these districts adjusted schedules by about a half hour, Radnor opted to give the kids nearly a full hour of extra sleep, making it the only district in Southeastern Pennsylvania to adopt the 8:30am start time recommended by the CDC and other medical groups, the district said.

In announcing the change, the school district said that it will ensure "the greatest number of Radnor students benefit from the scientifically proven health benefits of increased sleep."

A study released in December found that students in Seattle, which pushed its start time back to 8:45am two years ago, not only got more sleep, but got better grades and had fewer attendance problems.

Unionville, which adopted later start times for middle and high school students two years ago, also says the results have been positive.

“It’s made a tremendous difference for kids. Now what we know for a fact is that our kids are sleeping more. They’re more alert,” Superintendent John Sanville told WHYY.

Solebury School, in Bucks County, PA, moved to an 8:30am start time three years ago.

“The research is unambiguous,” Scott Eckstein, director of admissions, told WHYY. “We live in a country that can’t agree on anything except that teenagers don’t get enough sleep, and so it just seemed unconscionable to us to continue to bury our head in the sand.”

In New Jersey, Princeton school district moved its high school start time to 8:20 last year and in Delaware, MIlford School District was ahread of the curve, moving the school day to 8:25am in 2012, according to Start School Later.

While most school districts are focusing on high school and middle schools, since they usually start earlier than elementary-school students, making sure your child gets enough sleep at all ages is critical to development. See how much they need at each age here.

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