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WHS to start 50 minutes later

Alarm clocks for students at Westwood High School will go off later next year, now that the school committee unanimously voted to move the start time ahead 50 minutes from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. The change will go into effect for the 2023/2024 school year.

“I’m thrilled by the school committee’s unanimous decision to move Westwood High School’s start time from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.,” said school committee member Tony Mullin. “Research has indicated that this change will improve the physical, social-emotional, and mental well-being of our students here in Westwood.”

Mullin led the subcommittee on school start times which initially proposed three different scenarios. The district hosted a forum on the topic last month where students, parents, school staff, and residents were invited to share their opinions of the proposed changes. In addition, parents were sent a Google form soliciting feedback. Mullin said the highest support was for the option the school committee voted into effect.

Under the new plan, students at the middle school will start school three minutes earlier at 7:45 a.m. and be released at 2:22 p.m. Elementary school students will start 10 minutes later, with the school day beginning at 9:00 a.m. instead of 8:50 a.m. and ending at 3:20 p.m.

The high school sees the biggest change in dismissal time. Currently, high school students are released at 2:05 p.m. The new end time will be 2:55 p.m.

Westwood High School currently has the earliest start and dismissal times of any school in the Tri-Valley League, so little to no impact on sports schedules is expected.

“This new plan impacts our high school students the most,” said Superintendent Emily Parks. “I’m pleased that we will be in alignment with research that indicates a later start time is beneficial to students in this age range for many reasons.”

“I’d like to thank the Westwood school committee’s subcommittee on start times for its thoughtful work over the past year,” said Mullin. “I’d also like to thank the hundreds of parents, students, and [Westwood Public Schools] staff that provided input into this process. This feedback was invaluable in helping the school committee’s recommendation.”

Information on changes to bus times and routes will be released closer to the first day of school next year.

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