The Philadelphia School District is abandoning plans to shift start times to 9 a.m. next year for all of its high schools — at least for now.

“After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to postpone moving all of our high schools and middle/high schools (those serving grades 6-12, 7-12 and 8-12) to later start times for next school year,” Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said in a message to school communities. “All schools will be able to maintain their current bell schedules for the 2022-2023 school year, providing some much needed stability for our students, staff and families during these challenging times.”

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Earlier this year, the district cited research about adolescent brain development and a movement toward later high school start times in schools around the country when it announced the change. But the backlash was immediate.

Many students, teachers and families worried that the later start and dismissal times would hurt students whose families relied on income from their after-school jobs. They said it would likely reduce participation in extracurricular activities as some parents would be unwilling to allow their children to go home on public transportation later at night.

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Hite, in the letter, said the postponement was also influenced by bus-driver shortages and said if the district had proceeded with the schedule changes, it would not be able to equitably support student transportation at all 56 high schools.

“Postponing this change in bell schedules is the caring thing to do at this time,” Hite said. “School leaders who would like to move forward with a revised bell schedule for the fall can submit a proposal for consideration.”

The district is “fully committed” to its goal of moving high school start times later, though, Hite said.

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“We will continue to implement strategies that increase our competitiveness as we actively recruit for bus drivers throughout the upcoming school year, with the goal of shifting these schools to later start times for the 2023-2024 school year as our transportation staffing allows,” the superintendent wrote.