Getting Answers: changes to Holyoke school start times

Some parents in Holyoke are concerned over the change in start times at their children’s schools this year.
Updated: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Some parents in Holyoke are concerned over the change in start times at their children’s schools this year.

“We just been through a lot, you know, with the pandemic and everything and our routine has been disrupted a lot,” said Marissa Brueshaber.

This year, Holyoke Public Schools will be shifting their hours. Some parents reached out to our newsroom concerned over the change, so Western Mass News decided to get answers on why. We caught up with Jackie Glasheen, executive director of school leadership for Holyoke Public Schools. She told us they are changing the hours to actually shorten the school day by 20 minutes.

“This is really going to give our teachers adequate planning time and time to ensure that their instruction is exactly what the students need. We heard that from teachers loud and clear. They’re tasked more than any profession I can think of right now and we’re asking them to do the impossible sometimes, so we want to ensure that we give them that extra 20 minutes to work on their plans their systems and instructors to be ready for kids,” Glasheen explained.

However, parents are learning that the times vary by school. Classes will begin at 7:45 a.m. at E.N. White, McMahon, and Peck, as well as both Holyoke High North and Dean campuses. Classes will begin at 8:45 a.m. at Donohue, Kelly, Holyoke Middle, Holyoke STEM, Lawrence, Morgan, and Sullivan.

Glasheen told Western Mass News the two-tier start time has to do with busing, to make sure every kid is able to get on a bus and make it to school on time

“So we work with Durham School Transportation and on average, some schools may get 25 buses that service our schools. In order to get that fleet out to service all schools, we had to split them into two tiers, so the bus will go out and pick up tier one students, drop them off at school, check the buses, make sure they’re ready to go, and go to the bus stops for the tier two schools,” Glasheen added.

Brueshaber, a mom of six who currently has two kids at McMahon School shared with us her concerns over the earlier start time.

“I have special needs children as well, so they’re strongly impacted by routine changes and my eight-year-old actually told me ‘I don’t wanna go to school if I have to go in early,’” Brueshaber explained.

She also told us she’s concerned she won’t have time to get her kids ready in time.

“I have a four-year-old also at home, who hasn’t started school yet, so I’m changing his diaper and getting him ready for the day. I have this newborn here who’s going to need to nurse in the morning. I have to make sure that he’s changed and well taken care of as well, so I really don’t even know how early I’m gonna have to get up,” Brueshaber noted.

Glasheen told Western Mass News she advises all parents with similar concerns to speak with their school’s principal to find out what accommodations they offer.

“We think it’s really important that kids arrive on time, but we certainly know families have work commitments, other school commitments, another children. Many of our schools are offering before school care,” Glasheen said.