Though students at Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum high schools will start their days 45 minutes later and get out of class an hour later in 2017-18, the changes are unlikely to have a large impact on the schools’ athletic schedules.
Bellingham Public Schools announced in March its high school schedule will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. next year, compared with 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the 2016-17 school year.
Bellingham athletic director Chad Larsen said the adjustment for Red Raiders student-athletes will be minimal.
“Typical game times begin at or after 4 p.m., and current practices start at 3 p.m.,” Larsen said in an email. “When the schedule changes, we will start practices at 3:30 p.m. A half hour is not a big deal. Coaches have known this is coming and will adjust.”
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Kids might think that’s too late, and it might lower participation.
Ted Flint, Bellingham football coach
Larsen said the new turf fields at Northwest Soccer Park will come with lighting, which will further reduce daylight dependency in October and March.
“We are currently working with venues we rent to make sure the transition is smooth,” Larsen said.
Coaches also are cognizant they don’t want to have practices run too late into the night. Bellingham football coach Ted Flint said he fears practices will run too long now but won’t know until it happens.
“Kids might think that’s too late, and it might lower participation,” Flint said. “Also, coaches will be getting home to their families about an hour later.”
The main reason for the change is to better match the natural sleep cycle of high school students, based on the recommendations of pediatricians.
Flint said he could see both sides of the change.
“If it results in kids getting more quality sleep, it might be a net gain, though,” Flint said.
The date of the schedule change was corrected Aug. 1, 2016.