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Winnipeg School Division looks at starting high school later, releases survey

Winnipeg School Division administration building. Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

The Winnipeg School Division has released a survey asking parents about implementing later school start times for their high school children.

Trustee Chris Broughton said the motion was put forward last year, to study the impacts of potential start time switch-ups, to improve academic outcomes.

The school division says the later start times could be advantageous for students, including an increase in attendance numbers.

READ MORE: Winnipeg School Division looking into later start time for high schoolers

They cited a study done at the University of Minnesota that found grades, test scores and overall performances in core subjects improved significantly when school start times were switched to later hours.

Among the benefits of later start times for students, the school division also noted the disadvantages to switching the start times.

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The division’s research director, Jamie Hutchison, told 680 CJOB Monday that – at this point – Winnipeg School Division is just seeking parents’ opinions, and doesn’t have any set idea of what a potential change might be.

“Right now, we have no kind of preconceived idea of what that looks like. We’re just gauging public interest,” he said.

“We’re taking biology into account here and saying, ‘is this something we’re thinking about and looking closely at?’, and we’re asking parents for their opinions.

“There have been some studies that look at improving grades and student outcomes and less behaviour-related issues. We need to look seriously at how this applies to our particular set of circumstances. It’s something that is still very much in its infancy.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg school trustees pass 2019/20 budget, frustrated over what they call province’s influence

The division also highlighted issues for parents and how the later time could disrupt their schedules.

They say the change could also make it difficult for after school sports or tutoring lessons, as the later start time would mean a later end time for classes.

The collected survey information will be shared with the Board of Trustees to gauge interest and determine further discussion in the Winnipeg School Division.

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