California Becomes First State to Require Later Start Times for Middle and High Schools

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California Becomes First State to Require Later Start Times for Middle and High Schools

Sung Yoon Jo / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Sung Yoon Jo / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Sung Yoon Jo / Getty Images / iStockphoto

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California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Bill SB-328, which will prohibit middle and high schools from beginning classes before 8:30 a.m. The law will go into effect on July 2022 and will be put into action for the 2022-23 school year. 

The primary purpose of this law is to allow teens to get extra sleep. “When teens sleep longer they’re healthier, perform better in school, and are less prone to depression or suicidal thoughts,” stated Senator Anthony Portantino (D San Fernando/ San Gabriel), who introduced the law. 

“Although experts recommend that teens have nine hours of sleep each night, most teens only sleep an average of seven hours each night,” according to nationwidechildrens.org. Sleep deprivation is becoming more common and is extremely unhealthy. Thanks to this law, teens could finally get the amount of sleep they need. 

Studies show that later start times resulted in students being more alert in class, fewer students being tardy or absent, and students achieving better grades.

“The AAP’s Adolescent Sleep Working Group reviewed studies and found that poor sleep is linked to increased reliance on caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol,” according to time.com.

Many people believe that teens don’t get up in the morning because they’re lazy. The real reason is that due to hormonal changes, teens are unable to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. each night. This leads to a lack of sleep when teens are forced to get up early for school.

  Many people support this law believing that it will be healthy for students to get more sleep. People and organizations such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with four school districts, and several other child advocacy and medical groups, also support this law.

Although many people believe this law could be beneficial, there are some concerns that critics have. “If schools start later, they would also have to get out later. This could be a problem for students who are involved in afterschool curriculum or provide childcare for younger siblings,” reported verywell family. If teens know that school starts later, they may be tempted to stay up later. This completely defeats the purpose of the law.

“Oakland Unified is among the districts opposing the law. ‘Oakland USD is supportive of the law’s overall goal to improve learning conditions for students,’ wrote Aimee Eng, board president of Oakland Unified, in a letter opposing the law. ‘However, ultimately it is the governing boards in local communities and governance teams in local educational agencies who are best-suited to make these decisions, with the input of students, families, teachers, staff and community stakeholders,’” according to EdSource.

One year ago, former Governor Jerry Brown opposed this bill. He argued that the decision should be made by individual schools. However, people supporting the proposal were excited when Governor Newsom signed the bill and it became a law. California will become the first state to command later start times for middle and high school students.

 Currently, there are only two states in the U.S. with average start times later than 8:30 a.m. “Alaska has an average start time of 8:33 a.m. and North Dakota has an average start time of 8:31 a.m. Louisiana has the earliest start times, beginning around 7:40 a.m. each day,” recorded livescience.com.

Bernardo Yorba Middle School, along with other middle schools in our district, already have these later start times. However, many high schools in our area don’t. “Currently, about one-fifth of California’s schools already start later than 8 a.m. for middle school and 8:30 a.m. for high school,” according to EdSource. 

Dr. Greg Plutko, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified Superintendent, stated in an interview with the Matador Messenger that he believes the 8:30 start-time would not include students taking a “0 period” class. 

“Since the Governor just signed the legislation, we will all wait to get the final determinations of detail and analysis,” remarked Dr. Plutko. He is hopeful students will take advantage of the later start times by sleeping in. “That said, it speaks directly to a student’s personal responsibility and wellness as they plan their after school activities and homework…I hope they all are able to get just a little more sleep and build their strength!”

Mrs. Gina Aguilar, the Principal of Esperanza High School, stated in an interview with the Matador Messenger that the new law will create a number of necessary changes at the high schools.

 “We will have to change our start time to 8:30 am, which is a complete restructuring of our bell schedule. The biggest impact this law will have on high school students is at the end of the day,” explained Aguilar. 

Some of the changes will affect students involved in the athletics program. “Over 1/3 of our students participate in athletics, which is the last period of the day. Student athletes already have to miss class at times to get to games at other schools.  If school started later, they would need to miss even more class time for athletic contests,” stated Aguilar.

In addition, many of the Esperanza students have after school jobs.  Their availability to work would be impacted.

“This law would help the wellness of our students, which is obviously a pro, however, there is also research that states that students just stay up later at night if school starts later in the morning,” noted Aguilar.

 

 

 

 

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