The Beaufort County Board of Education voted recently to change start times for Hilton Head Island’s schools to match the schedules at other district schools that were approved by the Board on March 15. Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, all district elementary and PreK-8 schools will begin classes about 8 a.m., and middle and high schools will begin classes about 9 a.m.
Numerous scientific studies show that sleep-deprived adolescents often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and declines in academic performance. Researchers say that because of hormonal changes that occur in adolescence, teens’ bodies are not ready to go to sleep earlier at night.
Hilton Head Island High School moved its starting time from 7:45 to 8:35 a.m. in a pilot initiative that began two years ago, and school officials said that the results have been positive.
“We’re seeing fewer students late to school, fewer disciplinary referrals and more students on the Honor Roll,” said Hilton Head Island High Principal Amanda O’Nan. “I can’t imagine going back.”
“The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” Owens said. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”
Individual Beaufort County schools will determine their precise daily schedules later this spring and communicate those schedules to parents. Elementary and PreK-8 schools would begin classes about 8 a.m. and end about 3 p.m. Middle and high schools would begin classes about 9 a.m. and end about 4 p.m.
Moss said that schools would look at offering expanded adult supervision to accommodate parents whose work schedules affect their ability to drop off or pick up students at the new times.