‘Virtual First Period’ Could Lead to Well-Rested Teens

A small school district in Alabama has implemented a “virtual first period” that enables eligible students to sleep in during the school week.

EdSurge reports that Piedmont City School District, located in a community with fewer than 5,000 residents, has created this program for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students who maintain at least a B average. These students are allowed to complete their first period class’s assignments anytime they want, giving them the option to sleep in during the week.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, depression and unhealthy behavior including drug use, which affects 15,000 teenagers for the first time every day.

Educators at the school believe that in addition to the benefits of getting extra sleep, the extra autonomy helps students become independent learners by taking more responsibility for their schoolwork.

“Students have a higher level of accountability when it comes to their progress,” said Jennie Baer, a teacher at Piedmont. “They also have the flexibility to work at their own pace and can focus on what is important on a particular day.”

Jane Swift, CEO of Middleburg Interactive Language thinks that this program will benefit facility and students alike.

“The promise of digital instruction is increased flexibility and access to high quality academic coursework for all students,” said Swift. “And if it helps stop the spread of teenage zombies, we’ll all sleep a bit better.”

Another school district is also implementing virtual learning but at the expense of the beloved “snow day.”

According to The Hechinger Report, a school district in Kentucky, Owsley County, offers virtual lessons when there is too much snow — which happens more than 30 days a year — to open school buildings. The issue with these programs, though, is giving kids access to these expensive pieces of equipment.

“The next problem is how do we get devices to the most needy kids,” said Tim Bobrowski, Owsley County School District superintendent. “We work in a very impoverished area — that’s a challenge.”

Although some districts are facing similar logistical problems, it seems as though virtual learning presents plenty of opportunities for innovation and improved learning.

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