When the 2020/2021 school year begins next fall, students will have the option of starting the school day earlier or ending it later.
Edmonton Public Schools is moving to a six-block schedule for most high schools across the city. That will see the addition of an early morning course which, according to a notice sent to students and parents, could start as early as 7:55 a.m. A late afternoon course could end as late as 5 p.m. The exact hours are still being determined and could change from school to school.
While the change has been confirmed by Edmonton public, the details are still being worked on.
Carrie Rosa with Edmonton Public Schools tells Global News the move is not in reaction to the provincial budget and that it was in the works before the UCP released its financial plans. Instead, it’s being done to align all high schools in the city.
Some high schools such as M. E. LaZerte already offer the extended hours.
“We have some students who work, some who volunteer,” said principal Kim Backs.
“For some of them, having an earlier morning class better fits their schedule and for some having what traditionally we’ve thought of as after school better fits their schedule.”
Students will select their courses and can decide whether or not to include the early or late classes.
Parents and students are currently being asked for their input in developing the changes, including which classes should be offered at the new times.
At M. E. LaZerte, Math 30-1 has been a popular course for students to take during extended hours.
“Instead of having to take that in the regular day in the second semester, when they might want to retake it to get a higher percentage mark to get into post-secondary based on requirements continuing to go up, we’re able to offer that as a before-school or after-school course,” explained Backs.
The feedback is being collected through the beginning of the new year.
Edmonton Public Schools says the new times do not come with more teachers so current teachers will staff the extended hours.
A 2015 study found early wake-up calls can have negative effects on teens, both mentally and physically.
It said the biological wake up time for 16 year olds is 8 a.m. and that school should begin around 10 a.m.
In October, California became the first state to pass legislation that mandates high schools open no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
Edmonton Catholic said it has no plans to extend school hours at its nine high schools which typically run from 8:15 a.m. until 3:15 p.m.
When Blessed Oscar Romero High School first opened in 2004, classes started at 9 a.m. but feedback from parents and students prompted that to be changed to align with the other schools the following year.
For those at M. E. LaZerte, Backs told Global News parents have been “very positive” about the changes since they were made.