Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 2

School Days to Start Later in the Morning

Signed into law on October 13th by Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate Bill 328 guarantees that all school days at high schools will start no earlier than 8:30 AM.  Middle schools, however, will have to start no earlier than 8:00 AM.  Introduced to allow students more time to sleep, the bill will go into effect no later than July 1, 2022.

“Certainly, it sounds like a really good idea and I definitely would be in favor of it.  But also I think [that if] every day started at 8:30, then we’d just adjust to that as the new norm, and then it wouldn’t feel quite as freeing,”  said senior Mimi Canter.  “But …  there’s a lot of advantages to school starting at 8:30.  Either students get a little bit more sleep or they can have more time in the morning to collect themselves before school.  So overall, I think I would be in favor of school starting at 8:30.”

This bill would not be the first time in recent years that there’s been an adjustment of school days’ start times.  “[During] my freshman year, we only had 8:30 days once a week and it felt like this big event,”  said Canter.  “And now that it went to three times a week, it …  feels more expected.”  Students speak to Cheryl Stanton, the Wellness Center Intake Specialist, about a lack of sleep every day.  “Their technology is the main reason,”  said Stanton.  “We have [three] days of [later start times] already.  And it still seems that everybody’s late to come to school so I don’t think it would help.”

As legislators introduced SB 328 to help adjust student sleep schedules, the bill encourages more awareness of sleep deprivation.  “The bill would encourage the State Department of Education to post specified information on its internet website, including research on the impact of sleep deprivation on adolescents and the benefits of a later school start time, and to advise school districts and charter schools of this posting,”  stated the official SB 328 description.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, about 70% of high school students don’t get enough sleep on school nights, and students who get less than seven hours of sleep are more likely to be injured than students who got nine hours of sleep.  According to Harvard University, sleep deprivation leads to a higher risk of developing anxiety or a mental disorder.  A lack of sleep can also lead to a lack of focus.  “Sometimes it’s a struggle for people to be alert in class.  In past years I’ve noticed that,”  said Canter  “And I’ve noticed it’s not as much of a problem on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays versus Tuesdays [and Thursdays], when first period class is always going to be [the] hardest class to stay awake in.”

“It’s rare that I have a student come in, talking to me, worrying about how much sleep they’re getting.  But I usually ask them about how much sleep they’re getting, and most of them aren’t getting enough sleep, which contributes to depression and anxiety,”  said Brittany Friedrich, the Wellness Coordinator.  “I think that the load in high school can be really challenging…  So I think that the load, not just even the workload, but just the load in general of being a student…  and all these other things…  makes it hard to get enough hours in the day.”