Letter: Informed, not afraid

To the Editor

With erroneous claims, Stephen Cole is willfully bashing evidence of the benefits of a later start time for RHS. In his May 11 letter, Cole sets an embarrassing example by fabricating fears to HS rank, sports schedules, clubs, and costs. Correcting RHS start time does not equate to negative effects, and to suggest this is negligent, especially coming from an educator and coach.

Cole fears the RHS No. 4 U.S. News ranking, which is based on number of AP courses taken, will suffer if start times change. Will student achievement really suffer when teens are better rested? Cole is concerned about travel time, and students missing last period, but in fact, the FCIAC supports healthy start times and has affirmed it will manage schedules accordingly so students won’t miss classes. In districts with healthy start times, athletes have fewer injuries, improved performance, and better attendance. Regarding jobs and clubs, the 400 districts who now support teen health have successfully made it a priority to overcome issues.

Seventy-two local health care providers have signed a letter of support. RPS acknowledges that students are depressed, abusing drugs, drinking and under enormous academic pressure. Studies have shown that when school starts later teens experience lessened depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and fewer car accidents. Our district employs several psychologists, we have a Youth Council and parent circles to address the mental, emotional and physical health of our teens.

The CDC, AMA, AAP and others recommend teens start school at 8:30 or later. Should Ridgefield ignore the experts and the benefits because of inaccurate fear mongering? Having watched my RHS teen suffer the ill effects of an early start time and having another child soon to attend HS, I fully understand and support the benefits of a later start time for RHS.

Diane Sena