Secondary students in the Liverpool Central School District will have a few more bubbles to fill out and answers to fill in over the next few weeks, and it’s not just because of final exams. They will finally be taking a survey about their sleep habits and health as the district continues to decide whether classes should start later in the morning. Parents will receive a related survey.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Potter told the Liverpool Board of Education at its May 21 meeting that the survey process has been slow going because the agencies involved in the study “have been slow to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.”
Dr. Daniel Lewin of the Children’s National Health System has acted as the district’s consultant on the modified school start time issue. Child Trends is the research organization that will administer the survey, which must be approved by an institutional review board. Lewin will collate and manage the data collected.
The parent survey will be active over a period of two to three weeks, depending on the rate of response. The district is responsible for sending out three informational “blasts” through School Messenger, Key Communicator, social media and its website to inform and remind families about the survey. Another communication will advise parents of their rights to opt out of the survey.
The student survey, which has more than 50 questions, will be rolled out in three tiers. Ninth- through 12th-graders will take the survey first to accommodate the Regents and other testing schedules. Then, the survey will be administered in the three middle schools and finally to sixth-graders the nine elementary schools. Tentatively, the survey period will be May 30 through June 15.
Potter said students can access the survey through their school Chromebooks and likely will have the opportunity to take the survey during physical education classes.
Student board liaison Michael Fenner asked how the district would accommodate students who do not have a PE class. Potter said the district would assess how many students can take the survey during PE and then find an alternate time, such as the academic advisement period, for other students to take it.
BOE Vice President Pat DeBona-Rosier raised a concern that some senior students may not take the survey seriously.
“Often, after April break, our seniors are distracted,” she said. “I just think the seniors have a very valuable point. And I know there’s also a senior who may be thinking, ‘This isn’t going to affect me because my senior year is over.’”
“I think going out the door doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have a perspective that is important,” Potter said. “The other side of this is they may not have any opportunity to be a part of experiencing the change, but they can be part of helping change.”
Fenner assured Rosier that the issue is on the minds of senior students.
“Most of the students who come here [to the BOE meetings] have heard about the sleep study. They talk about it probably once a month, at least,” Fenner said. “When I hear kids talking about it, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m tired.’ They do want to be heard, the seniors especially.”
Fenner said there will always be some students who do not take matters like this seriously, but he said he intends to fill out the survey and believes his classmates will, too.
“I don’t think that they’re just going to blow it off. I think they will understand that this is important,” he said.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.