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Williamson County Schools may change daily start time for students

Williamson County to hold meetings to discuss possible changes to daily start times for students. (Photo: Pixabay)

UPDATE: Williamson County Schools could see some big changes.

Tennessee's top performing school district is considering letting middle and high schoolers start the school day later, but the change won't come without months of public debate which starts this week.

Williamson County mom and neurologist Dr. Beth Ann Malow knows a thing or two about proper sleep in school students explaining, “What happens is their sleep wake cycle changes when they become teenagers.”

The Vanderbilt Neurologist runs the Vanderbilt Sleep Center and is helping lead the charge to let Williamson County Middle and High Schoolers start the school day later around 8:30, rather than the current 7:30 start time.

Dr. Malow explains the biology behind the need to let teens sleep in, “So, what happens is melatonin that we make in our own bodies allows us to fall asleep and melatonin gets released later when you become a teenager.”

That's why now the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, The National Sleep Foundation & the American Academy of Pediatrics are all leading a nationwide push to let adolescents start school later calling sleep deprivation in teens a national health crisis.

Williamson County made a Youtube video for parents and is the first school district in Middle Tennessee to take the science of sleep to heart. In the video, Director of Schools Dr. Mike Looney explains, “Our school district is researching the benefits and practical implications of making changes to school start and end times.”

The district is starting the process of gathering public input in a series of parent forums this week.

Those for the switch are educating parents through the Facebook page, Sleep Well TN, packed with research on sleep deprivation in teens.

Dr. Malow says since her teens are in high school, they likely won’t benefit from any change in start times, but they’re proud of her for helping lead the charge for change.

The public forums start this week at Nolensville High Thursday from 6 until 7:30. Then Centennial High September 13th and Fairview High September 20th.

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Williamson County Schools are taking a look at later school day start time for students.

Williamson County is holding a series of meetings to address the possible change.

Right now, high school students attend school from about 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and elementary students attend school from about 8:30 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m. One possible idea being discussed would mean a complete switch for the students.

Under one option of the possible change, high school students would start school at 8:30 a.m. and elementary students would start school at about 7:30 a.m.

The first of three meetings will be held 6 p.m. Thursday at Nolensville High School. A second meeting is slated for 6 p.m., Sept. 13, at Centennial High School and another at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at Fairview High School.

What do you think about the possible changes in start times for students? Send us an email at news@fox17.com.

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