California adapting later start for high schools

Sufficient sleep is essential for students to be able to prosper well in class settings and that’s why California passed the Senate Bill 328 (SB328) in 2019. According to the Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the new law that will take effect this fall, requires students to enter school no earlier than 8:30 am. This new change will offer students an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning, but it also means that school will end later.

It’s important that students are given the necessary time to get sufficient rest. Lack of sleep puts a huge toll on student academic performance. Students who don’t get the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep at night tend to show signs of short attention spans, lack of memory, and slow problem solving in the classroom. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, biology studies have found a “phase delay” in young adolescents. Which means the average teenager can’t fall asleep until around 11:00 pm, so waking up around 8:00 am or later will better benefit them. “A later school start time helps accommodate this biological need. Overall care for sleep hygiene, such as having a good night’s sleep.”

Not only will the majority of students be more alert in classroom settings if they receive proper rest, but the Sleep Foundation stated that this new start time will also help students improve their attendance, grades, and will decrease tardiness and depressive symptoms in teens which are usually linked to tiredness due to lack of sleep. 

Researchers at the University of Washington performed studies on two different high schools in Seattle. They found that once start times were pushed back there was a 34 minute median increase of sleep students got at night.  “This boosted the total amount of sleep on school nights for students from a median of six hours and 50 minutes, under the earlier start time, to seven hours and 24 minutes under the later start time.This defeats the skepticism around this new schedule that it won’t actually give students more sleep, but instead push back their routine. The Seattle School district implemented this new time in the 2016-2017 school year. When they did studies on their students they found that students actually benefited from a later start time in areas such as punctuality.. “Franklin High School (FHS) had significantly fewer tardies and absentees in 2017 than in 2016” 

While students will be given the chance to sleep in, some are questioning whether they are actually getting more sleep. Many students believe that instead of gaining some extra time of sleep, their schedules will just be pushed back those extra 30 minutes. “I would prefer if we stayed with the old schedule because starting classes later would make us get out later pushing back practice and after school events leaving us with little time to do homework and home activities,” junior Ashley Corral said. 

However, not everyone feels the same way about this. In an informal survey, around 70% of students and faculty are excited for this new change and believe it will help. “I think this change in the school schedule is going to have a positive effect on all students. With school starting later, we now have more time to get both physically and mentally ready for class. Plus for once, I’m going to actually have time to eat breakfast,” junior Bethany Rosales said. 

 A majority of teachers are also supportive of this new law and the positive shift it will create in students’ lives. “Students will have more time to get ready and be on time and get more sleep so they’ll be more interactive in class,” math teacher Gary Golub said. English teacher Mick Battaglini agreed with Golub, “Most students seem more alert on collaboration Wednesdays, so I think it will be a positive change,” he said.

Aside from academics, it seems that the major concern both students and teachers have are with how this will affect after school sports. Starting later means school ends later, which will affect after school sports. Games and practices will most likely have to be pushed back, so students don’t miss as much class time and have time to attend mandatory tutorials. “It is awful. This is going to hurt after school sports,” Track coach Steven Munoz said. “Everyone thinks that we are starting later and ending the same time. It is just meaning we are getting out of school later in the day, which hurts all after school activities. Students have been going to school at 8 AM for decades. It is ridiculous that our state thinks our kids are too soft to be able to handle learning at 8 AM.” 

Athletic director Jose Gil said the schools plan to keep game and practice times the same, so students won’t have to worry about getting home much later than usual. As for tutorials, they will unfortunately be cut short. “There’s going to be a minimized tutorial system, just for half an hour instead of a full hour,” Gil said.