DCPS to change school start times for all students, but not until 2026

Duval County Public Schools is looking at shifting start times for elementary, middle and high school students starting in 2026.

Parents don’t need to worry about any changes happening now, but there is an opportunity to be a part of the conversation.

This is all happening because of a new Florida law, HB 633, that says school can’t start any earlier than 8 a.m. for middle schoolers and 8:30 a.m. for high schoolers.

The idea is to prioritize sleep for high school students.

Dr. Tracy Pierce, Chief of Marketing and Public Relations for DCPS, said it’s important for parents to understand the proposal won’t go into effect until 2026.

“What the legislation states is that it relies on research showing that high school students’ brains perform better, they’ll perform better academically if they’re able to get more sleep,” Pierce said.

At Tuesday’s board workshop, board members were presented with four different scenarios.

Scenarios 1 and 3 have elementary school starting at either 7:15 or 7:45 a.m. Middle school would start at 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. and high school would start at 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.Scenarios 2 and 4 both have high school starting at 10:30 a.m. and elementary and middle school would start at either 8 a.m. or 9:15 a.m.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.

Parents will have the chance to weigh in early next year on what they think is best. The biggest concern for the district is managing transportation and bus routes.

“Many high school students are involved in extracurricular activities that now would happen after the last bell and conclude at the normal end of a workday for parents. With the shift, you look at some of the extracurriculars happening early in the morning,” Pierce said.

The board will finalize the options to include in a survey for parents. DCPS expects to send out the survey sometime in early 2024 if not before then.

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