CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Board of Education agrees with numerous studies that say the circadian rhythm of teenagers causes them to stay up later and need more sleep.
In tying this to student wellness, the BOE is seriously considering ways to start school later in the morning for Chatham High students. That discussion began on Monday night at the regular meeting of the board.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for ages 13 to 18 over a 24-hour period. The recommendation is that all start times should be 8:30 a.m. or later.
To that end, Chatham Superintendent Michael LaSusa presented six options for later high school start times (see the summaries below) with the goal that one would be implemented by September of 2020 or 2021. LaSusa listed the pros and cons of each option, which all have benefits and obstacles in terms of implementation.
LaSusa started the conversation about a later high school starting time with his presentation at the Chatham Board of Education meeting on Monday night (see video below).
During LaSusa's presentation, he showed that in the survey of about 1,800 Chatham high school and middle school students, the older they got, the less sleep they received on average (see below)
The survey also found that in Chatham, female students were twice as likely to get five hours of sleep or less than their male counterparts. LaSusa said that those numbers correlated with more stress being experienced by CHS female students.
Board member Matthew Gilfillan offered that it should be more about parents establishing a bedtime than later start times. He advocates for more education about the issue rather than "blaming the school" in the video below.
Board president Jill Critchley Weber pointed to the chart shown by LaSusa of the students that were actually thinking about a plan to commit suicide in emphasizing the urgency of this issue in the video below.