School District to Postpone Moving All High Schools to Later Start Times
Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,
After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to postpone moving all of our high schools and middle/high schools (those serving grades 6-12, 7-12 and 8-12) to later start times for next school year. All schools will be able to maintain their current bell schedules for the 2022-2023 school year, providing some much needed stability for our students, staff and families during these challenging times.
In the Fall of 2021, the District began its phased approach to standardizing daily start and end times for its schools. Standardizing the bell times is designed to reduce the amount of time students spend on buses, help ensure buses are on time more often, and ultimately align to the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that older students start school later to give them the opportunity to get the sleep they need during their natural sleep/wake cycles.
Our initial plan for the 2022-2023 school year was for all 56 District high schools and middle/high schools to shift to a 9 a.m. bell schedule. However, like school districts across the country, we continue to wrestle with ongoing bus driver shortages, and are unable to equitably support the shift for all 56 schools. We also know that our students, staff and families are still working hard to reclaim a sense of familiarity and stability as we continue to: recover from extended time apart when school buildings were closed; learn to live in the presence of an ever-changing pandemic; and deal with many other traumas locally, nationally and globally. Postponing this change in bell schedules is the caring thing to do at this time. School leaders who would like to move forward with a revised bell schedule for the fall can submit a proposal for consideration.
We remain fully committed to our ultimate goal of shifting all of our high schools and middle/high schools to start times that align with AAP recommendations. We will continue to implement strategies that increase our competitiveness as we actively recruit for bus drivers throughout the upcoming school year, with the goal of shifting these schools to later start times for the 2023-2024 school year as our transportation staffing allows.
Thank you for your patience and partnership in your child’s education. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school.
Dr. William Hite
Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia