Letter: Working together for healthy start times

To the Editor:

Like lead, mold, and contaminated drinking water, current start times are unhealthy. Let's move past debating science and direct our energies towards solutions that work for our community. The Superintendent must lead our district in active problem-solving. The BOE must decide which start times are acceptable and examine homework policy, length of the school day, and the negotiation of a favorable, new bus contract. The HS Athletic Director must look at practice times, length of practice, and travel time. The logistics consultant needs to provide a cost-effective scenario with reasonable start times for all.

There’s a reason 400+ districts across the country have done this work, including our neighbors Greenwich, Wilton and Newtown, and that New Canaan, Westport and Norwalk are also planning. The reason is that health is more important than schedules.

The National PTA passed a resolution stating “evidence proves that implementation of later school start times for adolescents affords students the opportunity to obtain optimal levels of sleep, thereby improving physical and mental health, safety, academic performance, and quality of life.” I am hopeful that Ridgefield’s PTAs will support this responsible resolution.

We must unite to protect the health of ALL students. Other districts have successfully worked out the details, and we can too. The model for success is to first pick a workable scenario, and then adapt programs and schedules accordingly. There are an unlimited number of options and opportunities. There is nothing--no schedule or policy--that cannot be altered to protect the health of our children.

Gigi Christel

Ridgefield, Sept. 18