STEO’s imposed changes to Sept. 2020 school start times for CDSBEO & Upper Canada Board

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On May 8, 2020, parents were advised via an emailed letter from the school board that
Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO), in partnership with CDSBEO and UCDSB, has changed the start times for elementary and secondary schools effective September 2020. These changes mean an 8:00 a.m. start time for secondary schools and elementary schools will begin between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

In the letter, they claimed this new start time alignment “supports consistent planning for families, the implementation of district-wide learning opportunities and significant transportation related savings, without loss of service to families. To get a list of the full scope of changes taking place in the East-West region, please visit: www.steo.ca/belltimechanges

Though these changes may benefit the bus company and the school boards, many parents, who have not been consulted prior to the implementation of these changes, have been caught off guard and are now scrambling to figure out what to do.

- Majority of work places do not offer shift start times after 10:00 am, which is the earliest many parents would be able to get to work with a 9:30 am school start time.

- Many parents rely on older siblings to help get younger children on the bus in the morning, with the secondary school start time beginning at 8:00 am, this is no longer an option.

- Single parents will suffer trying to accommodate these changes into their schedules.

- young children, such as kindergarten age, will find it very difficult to accomodate to such long days. Most young children are early risers, and those with siblings getting up at 6 am for their 7 am bus to high school will be exhausted by nearly 4:00 pm when their school day ends, and with bus rides home, many will not arrive home until approx. 5:00 pm. 

- After school activities will be difficult if at all possible, since some children will not be arriving home until 5:00 pm, parents who are able to adjust their work schedules to a later start will be arriving home anywhere past 7 pm, making them unable to have dinner together, attend after school activities and help with homework.

- Day care Centers were already at max capacity with waiting lists before this change, it will be difficult to accommodate all the students that would now need before school care, and many families are not in a financial position to take on day care fees, even with possible financial support, especially after this Covid-19 crisis has affected many parents income. 

- These schools affected by these changes are made up of a population of students from rural areas, some of which have one hour bus rides to and from school, for secondary students, many will be starting their bus rides at or before 7 am. 

Countless studies, including those by the CDC have been conducted that highlight the scientific evidence linking earlier start times for teens with poor grades and difficulty. The following links provide some examples of the research that has been done: 

https://www.cdc.gov/features/school-start-times/index.html

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/backgrounder-later-school-start-times

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/later-school-starts-linked-better-teen-grades

STEO has set up a call centre that can be reached at 1-855-441-1589 beginning May 11, 2020.  As well, STEO and the boards are offering 7 interactive virtual (covid-19) parent information sessions between May 19 and May 28, 2020 to address questions. To register for your specific area visit www.steo.ca/belltimechanges

we are asking that you sign this petition to bolster parents arguments against this change in start times and to allow for parent consultation on decisions that affect our children, our work and our home lives. As well, we encourage you to sign up for the sessions so that parents voices can be heard on this issue.