June 2016: The Chorus Grows Louder
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American Medical Association (AMA) Calls for Later School Start Times!

Huge news! The AMA, the nation's largest group of physicians, has just announced a new policy encouraging middle and high schools to start class no earlier than 8:30 a.m.This position echoes that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other leading health associations that recognize the research supporting later bell times.

"While implementing a delayed school start time can be an emotional and potentially stressful issue for school districts, families, and members of the community, the health benefits for adolescents far outweigh any potential negative consequences," noted AMA Board Member William E. Kobler, M.D.

The new policy also encourages physicians to actively educate parents, school administrators, teachers, and other community members about "the importance of sleep for adolescent mental and physical health based on their proven biological needs." 

“I am encouraged by yet another powerful message about teen sleep and later school start times from a renowned and respected national medical organization," said Dr. Lynn Keefe, a Florida pediatrician and Start School Later's Health Policy Director in our own press release following this week's announcement.

Progress in Pennsylvania

Start School Later Chapters in Pennsylvania are seeing their hard work pay off. New legislation, (HB2105), just introduced by Representative Tim Briggs of Montgomery County, would direct the state department of education to study the relationship between teen sleep and school start times.

The new legislation comes on the heels of growing efforts around the state to raise awareness about teen sleep and school start times, described in a recent Huffington Post blog. If passed, Pennsylvania would be the third state to pass later start time legislation. In 2014 Maryland passed a bill directing the state department of health to study the issue, followed in 2016 by a second bill creating the Orange Ribbon incentive program to recognize districts with safe, healthy hours. Last year New Jersey passed a bill directing the state department of education to study the issue, much like the one proposed in Pennsylvania.

A Call to Action 

The American School Health Association, in their Journal of School Health, published a study examining research and policy on school start time, including the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report's conclusion: "This is a call to action for the implementation of AAP/CDC recommendations across the state and nation." 
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