AACPS School Start and Dismissal Times - School Year 2022-2023
In October 2021, following a series of discussions about creating healthier school start and dismissal times for students and work by a consultant hired to examine changes in bus transportation routes, the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County formally approved a shift for the 2022-2023 school year. The Board of Education directed that schools move to a bell schedule where elementary schools will begin between 8 and 9 a.m., middle schools will begin between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m., and high schools will begin at 8:30 a.m.
The work by Prismatic Services, Inc., the consultant hired by the Board to create efficiencies in student bus transportation, will also result in fewer bus stops throughout the county. That will potentially mean longer distances from home to a bus stop for some students. Additionally, the new hours will mean shifts in school meal and athletics schedules, and changes to child-care operations and co-curricular activities throughout the county. An implementation team is working to oversee and work through the various internal and external logistical aspects of this change.
What prior work has been done on the topic of later school hours in Anne Arundel County Public Schools?
In 2014, AACPS established the School Start Times Task Force to examine this issue. The task force was comprised of individuals from inside and outside the school system and its work resulted in several recommendations to change school hours. The work of the School Start Times task force can be found here.
What information has the Board of Education received from its consultant, Prismatic Services, Inc., regarding bus routing and school hours?
Prismatic Services, Inc., with which the Board contracted to find efficiencies in the student transportation system, has worked with Anne Arundel County Public Schools staff to finalize bus stop times and locations for the coming school year. Prismatic has made three public presentations to update the Board of Education and public at large on the project.
Some students will be walking longer distances to school bus stops and others may be walking to school for the first time next year. Can you share any advice to relieve anxiety and assist families?
Are all school hours changing in the 2022-2023 school year?
While some schools will end up keeping their same hours, school hours will generally be banded by level in the 2022-2023 school year. Classes will begin at 8:30 a.m. at all comprehensive high schools, 9:15 a.m. at all comprehensive middle schools, and between 8 and 8:30 a.m. at all comprehensive elementary schools.
How will the current bus driver shortage be impacted by the shift in school hours
The shift in school hours is independent of the issues related to the bus driver shortage. However, the work by Prismatic Services, Inc., the consultant hired by the Board to create efficiencies in student bus transportation, will also result in fewer bus stops throughout the county. That will potentially mean longer distances from home to a bus stop for some students.
How will families who will require child care as a result of the change in school hours be accommodated?
AACPS realizes the school hours shift will necessitate child care arrangements for families who have not required that service before. Families should begin to seek out those services now. AACPS is discussing ways to connect child-care providers with families.
The Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks operates School Age Child Care programs in many AACPS schools. For information about these programs, click here.
Will high school athletics schedules have to be altered to accommodate the shift in school hours?
Yes. The AACPS Office of Athletics is working with athletic directors around the county to create the best possible schedules for the 2022-2023 school year. Traditional “tripleheader” events, with three games at a single site on a single day, may no longer be possible.
Will students be able to have before-school clubs and other activities next year?
There are, at present, no plans for before-school activities next year. The Board-directed shift in school hours next year was done to address the physical and mental wellness of students by better aligning schedules to sleep patterns at all levels both in terms of amount of sleep needed and when that sleep occurs. Shifting to later high school hours, as an example, and then building in activities before school that require those same students to wake earlier, is counterintuitive to the Board’s efforts. The same applies at the elementary school level, for example, where students now wake hours ahead of the time their schools start. The intent in moving to earlier elementary times was to eradicate that gap, not to push elective activities earlier in the morning.
AACPS fully recognizes the importance of these opportunities for students, however, and we are working with principals to plan for as many as possible to occur within the school day during the flex time that has been built into schedules or after school.
The building in of clubs and activities in the school day also creates a more equitable arrangement through which more students can benefit. Before-school clubs, by their very nature, bring with them some inequity because students who have transportation outside of a school bus have more opportunity than those who do not. Building these activities into the school day or putting them after school, when activity buses may be available, helps eliminate that inequity by making the programs more accessible to all students and does so at hours during the day that align with the science and the Board’s intent of the shift.
What is the impact of later school hours on school staff?
ARE THERE NEGATIVE IMPACTS TO EARLIER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOURS, AS AACPS IS DOING?
While there will be complications to family schedules and other issues that must be addressed, research show minimal negative impact on sleep duration and daytime sleepiness in elementary students with earlier school hours while later school hours at the middle and high school levels have a significantly beneficial impact on sleep duration and daytime sleepiness for those students. Read a Sleep Research Society study on this subject,
DO LATER SCHOOL HOURS POSITIVELY IMPACT ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE?
There are several pieces of research that indicate that they do.
WILL LATER SCHOOL HOURS ACTUALLY RESULT IN STUDENTS GETTING MORE SLEEP?
Research shows that it will. This Journal of the American Medical Association study found that students who attended schools with later school hours got approximately 43 more minutes of sleep on school nights.
ARE THERE NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF SCHOOL HOURS THAT DON’T ALIGN WITH THE NATURAL SLEEP PATTERNS OF YOUTH?
Yes. School hours that result in unhealthy sleep patterns can have a variety of negative impacts.
Organizations in Support of Healthier School Hours
The following organizations have indicated their support, through position statements or research, for healthier school hours based on evidence indicating that healthier school hours have a positive impact on students. Links to those policy and position statements are listed below.