APS decision to change high school first bell to 7:45 a.m. prompts petition

Atlanta Public Schools’ decision to ring the first bell for high school students at 7:45 a.m. for the 2021-22 academic has prompted a petition to reverse the time change.

The change was announced in an email to parents late in the afternoon on Friday, May 7 as part of a recalibration to make up for lost education time during the pandemic.

Elementary school students will get an extra half hour of instruction each day for the next three academic years from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

To make that extra half hour possible, there had to be sacrifices to make sure buses were available, and APS high school students got the short straw. Middle school students will see no change to their bell schedule, which remains at 9:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.

But that switch from 8:30 to 7:45 a.m. for high schoolers (they’ll be getting out earlier at 2:40 rather than 3:30 p.m.) was met with an unhappy yawn.

North Atlanta High School Matan Berg, who will be a junior next school year, started a petition over the weekend at Change.org and it was nearing its 1,500 signature goal at the posting of this story.

“The decision was made without community input,” Berg said. “Why did they dump this late on a Friday? It was to avoid negative publicity.”

Matan Berg created a petition to reverse the APS decision.

Berg, who is active on social media and hosts his own political podcast, made sure the time change didn’t get lost over the weekend. Berg cited CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics  recommendations that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to give students the opportunity to get the amount of sleep they need.

“We followed the CDC’s science carefully for the past year during COVID-19,” he said. “There is no reason to stop now.”

Berg estimated that students who ride the bus will have to get up at 5:45 a.m., while he’ll have to drive 20 minutes to get to North Atlanta High from his home.

Does Berg think the petition will get any traction with APS officials? “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.