New Late Schedule Announced

Monday, March 25, 2019 | Maggie

Dear Duchesne Community,

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey on our pilot late start earlier this month. We had 56 parents respond and 285 students. Your comments have guided our next steps and a strong common voice emerged in many areas:

  • About 66% of parents and 75% of students believe that the research on teen sleep is a compelling reason to start school later;
  • Despite that agreement, those students living 30 min. from school do not feel they are able to take advantage of the later time due to increased traffic;
  • Student concerns with the pilot schedule included loss of early dismissal days, a desire for advisory in the morning, and concerns over traffic and parking; 
  • Despite obstacles, there is a great deal of evidence that the later start time DID increase sleep:
    • 75% of students and 73% of parents felt the students were able to sleep later due to the late start;
    • The biggest obstacle for those not able to sleep later was traffic and parking concerns (confirmed by parents);
    • What students most liked about the new schedule was “SLEEP” (mentioned 125 times).
    • The median number of days getting 7-9 hours of sleep rose from the fall student survey at 3.97 to 4.53. This is less than the standard deviation of 2.14 so not yet significant, but did move the needle in a very short time;
    • Hours of sleep averaged in the previous 7 days rose from a median 6.53 in the fall to 7.13 in the spring, that’s about a half hour more sleep.
  • The other important theme to emerge is that the real problem is the amount of homework every night. Parents and students brought this up despite it not being asked: “If you really want us to get more sleep, assign less homework”.

After months of research and discussion, the February pilot, and your feedback, the faculty and administration have decided to adopt a daily schedule change for the fall of 2019. Fundamental to this schedule is a 50 minute later start time with classes beginning at 8:45 am. The dismissal time will remain at 3:30 pm and include 3:10 dismissals on some days of the week. To accommodate this start time and to respond to student needs for a reduced daily homework and class load, we have also adopted a new bell schedule that will increase our double blocks from 2 to 4 days each week.

  • We believe that this solution offers the best option to our goal of: “Maximizing opportunities for wellness, modeling balance between personal time and work, slowing down the pace of the day, and ensuring that teens can sleep 8-9 hours every night” as well as continuing to “Ensure our community can live Goal 4 as well as explore personal interests and wellness”.
  • As always, we remain committed to maintaining the excellent education and learning opportunities we offer.
  • Our students who live farther away from school, particularly in West Omaha, felt they could not leave later due to traffic and thus did not have an opportunity to benefit from the extra sleep. Focused conversations with parents and students convinced the administration that moving the start time further back would allow this opportunity for all of our students.
  • We know that many families have to drop off their students earlier due to their work schedules. Please know that the school will continue to open at 6:30 am. We are also planning to provide supervision in the weight room from 7-8 every morning and prayer activities will be offered as healthy activity options for those who do need to come in early.
  • Our greatest concern for our students is growing numbers of young people who struggle with anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. This new schedule is one important way to address one of the major causes, sleep deprivation. We are tracking our students’ experiences with the goal of creating a culture of greater joy, a deeper belief in their own inherent value and self-worth, and the knowledge that they are always loved by a generous, forgiving, and merciful God.

New Schedule (beginning fall 2019)