Prince William Co. School System Seeks Comment on Potential New Class Times

School officials in Prince William County, Va., plan to solicit feedback from students, staff and parents on potential changes to county bell schedules in the coming weeks.

School officials in Prince William County, Va., plan to solicit feedback from students, staff and parents on potential changes to county bell schedules in the coming weeks.

The school system plans to roll out its feedback surveys around April 25 with a two-week administration window.



The school board said it will then use the survey results to gauge the level of support for each of the potential changes to class start times. Any approved changes would be implemented for the 2023-24 school year, according to a presentation provided to the school board on Wednesday evening.

Four potential schedule models were presented to the school board and developed using information from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommend starting middle and high school after 8:30 a.m.

A graph shows the impact of potential changes to class start times in Prince William County, Virginia. (Courtesy Prince William County School Board)

The research presented also indicated that delayed school start times could reduce traffic crashes involving teenage drivers.

The update is the latest in the county’s effort to explore potential changes to school start times. It began reviewing start time changes in January 2020.

Currently, high schools start the day first, followed by middle school and then primary.

Proposed changes include:

  • Start high schools later and have elementary schools start the day first, while keeping middle schools at the same time
  • Maintain the current order of school start times (high school, middle school, elementary) while postponing start times until 8:30 a.m.
  • From primary, middle and high school and no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
  • Start high school and middle school at the same time, no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and start elementary school earlier

School officials also detailed the cost of each potential change, the impact it may have on the community and school employees, and any additional considerations, such as whether the schedule change would have an impact on extracurricular activities.

A chart with examples of new school bell schedules in Prince William County, Virginia.

Jennifer Cassata, the school district’s director of research, accountability and strategic planning, said the proposed recommendations stem from the scientific literature on sleep.

“Research strongly indicates that taking steps to engage the community from the start is essential to ensure that any changes do not create unintended consequences or inequities,” Cassata said.

Further information on the options being considered is available online.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the exact day of the Prince William County School Board meeting.)

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Jeremy S. McLain