A report from KUOW.org investigates how changes in school start times in Seattle have impacted students, families, and staff.

Most teens in Seattle Public Schools get to sleep in this year – at least, relative to years past. After years of pressure from parents, teachers and sleep experts, the district flipped its bell times so that nearly all middle and high schools start at 8:45 a.m., and most elementary schools begin at 7:55 a.m. That’s the opposite schedule from years past, when many elementary students didn’t start until 9:30.

The changes were meant to fall more in line with children’s biological clocks: To give teens, most of whom can’t easily sleep before 11 p.m., the extra sleep they need in the morning, and to take advantage of early-rising young kids’ prime morning learning hours.

“I’ve noticed that the mornings are a lot less stressful,” said Kira Hoffman, an eighth-grader at Jane Addams Middle School. “I don’t feel super-rushed or worried about how much I’ve slept, or when I’m going to get to school, or if I’m going to be late.” Once at school, Hoffman said, she also feels more focused in her first-period class.

Photo Credit: Ann Dornfeld/KUOW

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