Letter: Sleepless in Trumbull

To the Editor:

The end of summer is often bittersweet for parents. The kids go back to school and the busy school routine replaces lazy summer mornings. The start of school means getting up early, sometimes too early. This is exactly what some Trumbull High School and middle school students face each year. Many Trumbull High students wake up at 5:30 a.m. in order to make a 6:30 a.m. bus. Our middle school student wakes up at 6:00 a.m. to make a 6:55 a.m. bus.

According to an August 2014 article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, our high school and middle school-aged children need more sleep as their bodies are growing and going through puberty. The report also notes children who are required to wake up early for school have a higher incidence of obesity, depression and drug and alcohol abuse. We can all agree we want our children to succeed in school. As parents, we go above and beyond to ensure that our children have the right tools to do well. We spend money on tutors to help their minds, sports and coaches to build their bodies and books and technology. The simple idea of getting more rest, however, gets overlooked. It’s not about getting to bed earlier. It’s about recognizing children’s biological clocks are different.

Sixty percent of high schools in the United States start after 8 a.m. Why does Trumbull have such early bus pick-up for our children? It’s because of a shortage of buses. Many of the town’s bus drivers have multiple routes and schools each day. After dropping off a group of students at the high school, a Trumbull bus driver might have to pick up middle and elementary school students. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urges high schools and middle schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Trumbull should be willing to make the right investment in our students and schools. It’s time to step up and ensure our children are given all the tools they need to succeed, including sleep.
Benjamin and Maria Strong