Kids cheer, parents groan as Wayland schools change start times

Kids cheer, parents groan as Wayland schools change start times

WAYLAND, Mass. — That giant sound of joy you might have heard around noon Tuesday was school kids across the state getting out for the summer.

In at least one district, there will be a big change in the fall that is not bringing joy to some parents. Come September, school will be starting earlier for some elementary kids in Massachusetts in order to enable later start times for adolescents.

School administrators in Wayland say science guided their decision. It's the latest town in Mass. to bow to biology.

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"When a child goes through adolescence, their circadian rhythms change and they naturally fall asleep later and wake up later," Wayland School Committee Chair Jeanne Down said.

And so, for the new school year, elementary students will report earlier but the start times for middle and high school students will push ahead by about an hour to 8:40 and 8:35.

In theory, that would give adolescent students more time to sleep.

"I understand there's some benefit to getting more sleep, I just wonder if it's a reality," parent Jeff Baron said.

It took Wayland about three years to make the change. Downs says she is encouraged by stories from other towns that changed start times last fall.

"Weston and Winchester just implemented it this year and their parents and teachers report that the kids really are getting an extra hour of sleep," Downs said.

Still, for some families, the change will present a hardship as child care considerations grow even more complicated.

"Their big issue is they're likely to incur thousands of dollars in daycare costs that they weren't incurring before," Baron contested.