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Medical Community Supports Shift in School Start Times

Bend-La Pine Schools is taking public comments until May 31

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Are you tired of hearing your teen whine about being tired in the morning? Well, the largest medical health system in Bend just came out supporting the Bend-La Pine School District's plan to shift school start times.

The St. Charles Health System Board of Directors—and its executive leaders—recently voted to formally endorse the school district's plan, according to a press release on May 22.

"We believe this change, which would have elementary school students start the day earlier while middle and high school students start later, will benefit the health of our children and our community," Joe Sluka, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System said in the release. "The shift in school start times is directly in alignment with the St. Charles' vision of 'Creating America's healthiest community, together.'"



According to St. Charles, medical experts agree that early start times for high school students are not in line with their daily rhythmic patterns. This can lead to sleep deprivation, which can cause decreased school performance and attendance, and also may cause a spike in car accidents.

The biggest problem with insufficient sleep: it's a strong component of adolescent depression and anxiety, according to St. Charles.

Dr. Jeff Absalon, chief medical executive for St. Charles, said while he understands the impacts the shift could have on school district operations, he fully supports the transition.

"It is our hope that by sharing our support, community members and parents will understand the critical health factors involved and will agree that protecting the emotional and physical well-being of our children is of paramount importance," Absalon wrote. 

The district is conducting an online survey until May 31 to let the community weigh in on the issue, said BLPS Communications Specialist Alandra Johnson. That survey will be available on the district website, https://www.bend.k12.or.us.

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