Upcoming meeting in Smiths Falls will discuss changing school start times for UCDSB

Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute. – Photo via school’s website

A pair of public consultation sessions are planned for next week as the Upper Canada District School Board looks to flip its elementary and secondary school start times.

Proposed earlier this year, the English-Public school board wants to move its secondary school start time to around 9:30 a.m., and elementary school start time to around 8 a.m. Board officials cited multiple scientific studies that point to secondary school students performing better in class and having higher school attendance with later school start times.

The first planned session is for November 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute; the second is set for November 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore.

“Scientific research shows that good sleep hygiene can increase academic achievement, school attendance, and both physical and mental health of students,” said a letter to parents from the board. 

A panel of experts including Eastern Ontario Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Université du Québec professor Dr. Geneviève Forest, and the UCDSB’s chief psychologist Dr. Jennifer Curry will take part in the meetings. 

The board has invited parents and guardians to attend the meetings in-person, or to view online. The meetings will be streamed online. A video with information from the two meetings will be published online sometime in December.

While the board is consulting with families, no time line has been set for making the changes to start times. 

In an update to UCDSB trustees earlier this year, consultations with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario are underway but no information was provided.  

The two boards jointly own the transportation consortium – Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario – and both must agree to any changes to start times. 

The boards aligned secondary school timetables and timetables in a three-phase, three-year move beginning in 2018. 

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