MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Should Miami-Dade County Public Schools change start times for the school year so students can get more sleep?

That is the topic up for discussion on a Twitter Town Hall meeting Thursday afternoon.

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If you’d like to submit your input on the topic, just Tweet your questions or comments to @MDCPS using #MDCPSBellTimes from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

If you’d rather take part in person, instead of on social media, there are three more public meetings scheduled.

January 13:  Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, located at 1410 NE 215 Street in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

January 21:  Coral Reef Senior High School, located at 10101 SW 152 Street in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

January 28:  Miami Jackson Senior High School, located at 1751 NW 36 Street in Miami from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The school board is looking for input from the public, but says it’s not just about allowing students to get more sleep but also making sure it maximizes the use of buses, limits additional costs, and maintains the length of the school day.

Numerous research studies have outlined the health benefits of later school start times to better align with the natural sleep cycle of teenagers.

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Research shows adolescent brain functioning is higher later in the morning.

At puberty, kids’ body clocks shift, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep until later at night (for teens, closer to 11 p.m.) and leads to them sleeping later in the morning. Waking a 16-year-old at 6:30 a.m. is the equivalent of waking a 40-year-old at 4:30 a.m. Moving school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later has been shown as a way to address adolescent sleep deprivation and its associated health and public safety risks.

Early school start times, according to MDCPS, results in more absences and tardies, lower test scores and graduation rates, and even increased rates of student-athlete injuries. Studies have shown that when start times are moved later, students with the lowest scores show the biggest increases.

There is also a proven link between sleep deprivation, school start times, and teen hopelessness and suicidal ideation. Adolescents who experience chronic sleep deprivation because of early school start times are likely to have decreased ability to regulate negative emotions and moods.

The School Board has created two proposed bell alternatives and both include no classes starting earlier than 8 a.m.

For example, senior high schools currently start at 7:20 a.m. but in the first proposed model, it would start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. The second proposed model has it starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m.

Middle schools currently start at 9:10 a.m. but the first proposed model has it starting at 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. in the second proposed model.

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