ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — North Atlanta High School student Matan Berg will be a rising junior this fall, but he’s not exactly thrilled about having to rise extra early for his first period class. Atlanta Public Schools recently announced high school classes will start at 7:45 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m. “My mom contacted me on Friday when the decision came out, and she said, ‘I’m so sorry. This is gonna be terrible for you,’” said Berg.

He started a petition, calling on the district to reverse the decision. As of Friday afternoon, it had more than 2,600 supporters. “The CDC says 73% of people don’t get enough sleep as is, and taking an hour away from that will only make things worse,” Berg said.

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Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring previously issued this statement:

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has developed a three-year Academic Recovery Plan that includes a school-based intervention block at every school to address the unfinished learning and learning loss our students experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our plan includes changing the bell schedule for elementary schools and high schools beginning next school year to accommodate this intervention. We know this decision brings about a change for many of our families, and I want our families to know that their voices are critically important in this process. We are planning additional opportunities for community engagement as we socialize this change. The needs of all of our students have always been at the forefront of every decision we make and their success in college, career, and life is paramount. We look forward to the continued community engagement on our Academic Recovery Plan and the support of our students, parents, and families in this initiative.

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“There was no communication or community input on the decision in the first place,” said Berg. “In the past, when we have had changes to calendars, there have been district-wide surveys,” said his mom, Karen Kerness, a former high school teacher. “I remember going to school that early as a high schooler, and I pretty much spent all of first period [nodding], so kids are not going to be absorbing much of the information.” She’s also concerned about students who drive. “Taking away their sleep is the last thing they need to do, and it’s not going to help remediate their learning,” she said. “They’re all gonna catch up and they’re all gonna be ok. It’s more important to take care of their mental health.”

Some APS parents, like Davida Huntley, see it differently. “I don’t see a problem with it. I think it’s a regular adjustment into what we’ve gone through in the past year. We have to work together as a community,” said Huntley.

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Kerness says, so far the school system hasn’t responded to the complaints, but she and others are hopeful administrators will reconsider the change.