LCPS Changes High School Start Times for 2022-23 School Year


Courtesy of DHS Yearbook

Arriving on the first day of school for this year, students will start 15 minutes later next year to accommodate bus needs.

Announced Thursday, January 20, Loudoun County Public Schools released new scheduling plans for all K-12 schools for the 2022-2023 school year. LCPS made this change with the goal of increasing reliable transportation and prioritizing safety and arrival times, which would ultimately maximize instruction.

All 17 high schools in the county, with the exception of Loudoun Valley and Woodgrove, will adjust the schedule to 9:30 am, to 4:30 pm. Moving 15 minutes back, this switch could inevitably result in shifts in start times of athletics, clubs, zero period, and Academies Programs.

“Loudoun County Public Schools has a huge shortage of bus drivers that they need, and by spreading out the length of time that buses transport students to schools, they can make it possible to hire fewer drivers, and reuse those drivers in the buses that they drive to serve multiple schools. [LCPS] wants students dropped off at schools on time as they’re trying to improve their level of service,” Dr. Brewer said. 

“Each morning on the radio I hear our dispatchers looking for help to cover bus routes here in the ‘East’, [which is] Sterling/Dulles. Sometimes it’s traffic, sometimes it’s an absent driver, sometimes due to the shortage a driver will travel pretty far in order to squeeze in as many students as possible in one trip. [Also], the occasional mechanical trouble is part of the package as well,” Jorhely Arias, a LCPS bus driver said. 

Immensely impacting students, particularly student-athletes and those who work part-time jobs, this change could push back practice and game times, as well as make it very difficult for students to arrive at their jobs in a timely manner. “This could create the cascading problem of kids running through the parking lot, trying to be the first out of the parking lot, or trying to get to work at five o’clock,” Brewer said. 

English teacher Molly Menickelly said, “I think the end of the day at [4:18 will be] really hard for a lot of students, especially if they’re worried about getting to practice or work, as they might be more distracted.”

Student-athletes might expect delays in their practice and game start times, eliminating extra free time to hang out with friends, complete homework, or attend club meetings. “Typical practices are probably going to start a little bit later than they have in the past. Now, because otherwise, we’re gonna have to have early dismissals to go to routine games,” Brewer said. 

The LCPS information page states athletic events will not be impacted by the 15-minute delay,Concerns have been raised regarding students needing to be released early from their classes in order to attend sporting events. “Students who leave on early release [for sports] are missing more of that last block of the day, meaning we’ll cut into more instructional time, which isn’t good,” assistant principal Jon Signorelli said.

Students across Dominion have different opinions regarding this change. “Personally, I’d rather not have the 15-minute change, and as an athlete, I will get home a lot later than normal,” freshman Cayden Newell said. 

Junior Erin Earley had mixed feelings following the announcement yesterday. “I don’t like it because we already [start] so much later than all the other surrounding counties, but I guess it will be nicer in the morning to have a little more time to sleep.”

Students around LCPS released their emotions following the announcement. After @LCPSofficial released the “transportation update,” students bombarded the account with replies and quote tweets. One disappointed student said, “Are you serious? I’m literally not going to get home until 5:30 next year. Maybe you should involve the parents/students before making these decisions.”

Not only are high schools in Loudoun facing this change, but so are elementary schools and middle schools. Twenty-eight elementary schools will be changed to start at 7:30 am, and thirty will be adjusted to begin at 8:00 am. On the middle school level, only four will begin at 8:30, while 7 others will begin at 8:50.

Adjustments will also be made to adjust the Academies of Loudoun schedule and zero period times due to the alterations in bus plans and the following of high schools. The Academies will now begin at 9:30 am and conclude at 3:30 pm. No plans have been made at this time regarding zero period times. 

“I don’t think they make the decision lightly, and the people who made the decision have thought about these factors. I think they’re really trying to navigate a pretty complex situation, and ensure that they get kids to school, on time, safely, every day, and that’s their goal,” Signorelli said. 

Arias said, “I trust our transportation team and know they are sincerely trying to treat both their drivers and the students they serve as best they can.”