State lawmakers to study later start times for schools

Published 1:38 pm Sunday, January 23, 2022

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The Tennessee State Legislators are considering a bill filed last week that could, if adopted, move the school day start times forward, allowing middle and high school students a bit more shut eye prior to their day.

House and Senate Bills SB1818 and HB1836 were filed for introduction on Jan. 19 and passed on first consideration the following day.

If approved, the Bills will amend the verbiage in TCA Title 49, Chapter 2 and Title 49, Chapter 6, part 30 to reflect the change.

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The bills, filed by Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Sen. Brenda Gilmore, were created to help Tennessee students achieve the “healthy nightly sleep” they need to support overall wellbeing.

Under the proposed bill, each public high school would begin classroom instruction no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Each public middle school would begin its classroom day no earlier than 8 a.m.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recently released a Position Statement recommending that school days begin at 8:30 a.m. or later for middle and high school students. The AASM recommends that teens attain at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep on a regular basis so as to promote optimal physical and mental health, daytime alertness and school performance.

Studies have shown, however, that nearly 73 percent of high school students report 7 or less hours of shuteye on school nights, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

If adopted, the changes will begin during the 2023-24 school year.