Lawmakers mull later school openings, time zone change

Many are concerned about sleep deprived students

BOSTON (AP) — A drive to push back start times for public schools has intersected with an ongoing study into the merits of shifting the state to an altogether different time zone.

Concerns about sleep-deprived teens and sunshine-starved winter days are running into reluctance to tinker with traditional schedules and their potential disruptions.

Supporters feel lack of sun in the winter and early school start days, are interfering with learning. Tammy Isaacs of West Springfield told 22News, kids need more sleep, in order to academically compete, “I feel like their performance and the way that they participate in class would benefit them more and they would be able to pay attention more.”

An advocacy group delivered thousands of petitions Tuesday asking the Legislature to pass a law requiring high schools and middle schools to start the day at 8:30 a.m. or later. Many now start by 7:30.

A special commission studying the possibility of Massachusetts switching from the Eastern to Atlantic time zone heard recently from a pediatric sleep specialist who argued that school start times must be moved back if a zone switch is made.