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The St. Charles Health System Board of Directors and its executive leaders recently voted to formally endorse the Bend-La Pine School District’s proposal to shift school start times.
“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,” said Joe Sluka, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System.
The shift in school start times is directly in alignment with the St. Charles vision of “Creating America’s healthiest community, together.”
Medical experts agree that early start times for high school students are not commensurate with their circadian biology. This leads to sleep deprivation with its attendant adverse effects including decreased school performance, decreased attendance and increased car accidents.
“Giving our children the opportunity to sleep within their biologic circadian time should give them the best chance at reducing the negative effects that insufficient sleep can have,” said Dr. David Dedrick, medical director of the St. Charles Sleep Center. “This shift is becoming a national trend and is supported in medical literature.”
The biggest impact may be the adverse impact the earlier start times have on the emotional well-being of the child. Sleep specialists and sleep researchers clearly believe that insufficient sleep is a strong component of adolescent depression and anxiety.
“While we realize the significant impacts this shift has on the operations of the school district, we fully support the transition,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, chief medical executive for St. Charles Health System. “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.”