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Focus on when the school day starts, not the school year

What happens when school starts before 8 a.m.? Students don't learn.

Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order to start the school year after Labor Day is not necessarily the end of the world as some have suggested. While I find it intriguing that a Republican governor seems fine intervening in what should be a local decision, I do think we are missing out on a more important conversation that should focus on not when the school year starts but when the school days starts ("Spring break could be cut," Sept. 2).

There are way too many counties (including Howard County where I live) where high schoolers have to arrive at school by 7 a.m. or even 6:45 a.m. Such early starts coupled with a teen's physiological need for a minimum of nine hours of sleep promote a litany of health and learning problems. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend starting school times no earlier than 8 a.m. A host of local jurisdictions have recently moved to later start times.

We should be focused on our children's well-being, and starting school before 8 a.m. to save money on busing is like stepping over a dollar to save a dime. Just ask yourself this: Do you feel like actively learning at 7 a.m.?

Chris Vernick, Ellicott City

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