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Adams 12 to push school start times later by half an hour — if normal operations resume

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The 39,000-student Adams 12 school district is the latest in Colorado to announce plans for later school start times to better meet teenagers’ sleep needs.

The district, which will push start times a half hour later for elementary, middle and high schools next year, joins several others around Colorado that have adopted later start times recently. Those districts include Cherry Creek, Boulder Valley, District 27J, Greeley-Evans, Poudre, and Thompson.

In the fall, Adams 12 high schools will start at 7:45 a.m., middle schools will start at 9 a.m., and elementary schools will start at 8:05 a.m. The bell time changes won’t apply to four K-8 schools, charter schools, or two elementary schools — Centennial and Thornton.

District officials said in an email sent to families Thursday that the new start times will take effect only if the district is able to resume normal operations in the fall. Parents will be notified of final plans by July 31.

The push for later high school start times has gained steam nationally with increasing evidence that when school schedules match with teen sleep rhythms, students are healthier, attend school more regularly, and do better academically. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend middle and high school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later so teens can get more sleep in the morning.

While the change in Adams 12 won’t meet those recommendations for high school students, it will get closer than the current 7:15 a.m. start time.

Last fall, California passed a law mandating later start times statewide — though there are exemptions for rural schools.

In Colorado, the switch to later start times happened gradually, starting in 2012 with the Montezuma-Cortez district in the state’s southwestern corner. It’s caught on with larger Front Range districts over the last several years.

Still, hold-outs remain. While Denver and Jeffco — the state’s two largest districts — have considered later start times at various points, neither has made the change.

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