Upper Darby High School adopting new start time in the fall

Upper Darby High School will start later in the fall after a sleep study found many teens don't perform well early in the morning.

In-person teaching will begin at 9:45 a.m. for students. Prior to that, the school will utilize asynchronous learning-a series of short offline 20-minute companion courses the students will take that coincide with each one-hour in-person class later in the day-starting at 7:30 a.m. at home.

The school day will still end at the same time.

"This is not pandemic related," said Dr. Greg Manfre, Director of Secondary Education. "This is really mostly about the sleep study and what we think is best for our students."

The students don't have to do work at 7:30 a.m.  They can do it after school, if they choose, and then sleep in.

"It's not homework, it's not a study hall. It's either preparation for or independent practice to what they were doing in class that day," said Manfre.

Principal Kelley Simone says that the process of learning won't dramatically change.

"In-person students are still doing independent practice. They’re still applying skills. That's no different than what we're saying. We’re just saying that we want you to do it and it provides the flexibility that meets your needs and your schedule," she said.

This program leaves less face-to-face student-teacher interactions, which long-time educator (who is not affiliated with the district) Regina Barr does not agree with.

"When kids are doing work, you want to catch their mistakes right away, so I want to be live to see those mistakes," she said. "We can't do that if they're not actually on camera."

Chermera Bolton, the mom of a ninth grader at Upper Darby, doesn't like it either.

"I think they had enough self learning through the whole process of the COVID experience. They need to go back into the school," she said.

While other parents see the value of a well-rested student.

"I think it's a great idea. Because some of the children don't get enough rest, so I believe [the program] would be very good for the students," said the mother of another student.



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