MASON, Ohio — Mason City Schools is pushing back start times for all students next school year.
Students in grades three through sixth will now all start school at 8:40 a.m. Middle and high school students will start at 7:45 a.m. Students at Mason Early Childhood Center will start at 9:20 a.m.
Superintendent Jonathan Cooper announced the decision Thursday, explaining the reasons for the changes in a YouTube video. Students' mental health is part of it.
"We listened to our community, and we heard that start times were really early in our district, so we started to study and look at other start times. And we understood that this fits into a larger conversation of mental health," Cooper says in the video. "And we knew that the research is telling us that, if we could move our start time back for adolescents, then we would be taking a first step as an organization, as a school district, to show our community and show our students that we do care about their mental health."
The change in school schedules came after the district surveyed parents, students and staff and held a "CommUNITY Conversation" about proposed new start times.
District officials said the later start times will allow students to get more sleep, and will also save about $150,000 by keeping students in grades three to six on the same schedule.
Students, staff and families also shared other concerns related to mental health in the surveys. Officials said the schedule change "is just one step in a journey to improve learners' mental health." They wil also review homework, the competitive culture, social media, screen time and extracurriculars.