As early as 2022, California middle and high school students will start school after 8 a.m.
Over the last few years there has been an overwhelming amount of research done surrounding the benefits of later school start times for children. Despite the fact that pushing the start time by less than an hour enables kids to get an average of 34 more minutes of sleep, which leaves a noticeable impact on everything from their academic performance to their punctuality, many educational institutions still aren’t motivated to make any changes. However, come 2022, the Los Angeles Times reports that schools in California aren’t going to have a choice.
On Sunday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law legislation that will mandate later start times at the majority of public schools, making them the first state to implement such a policy.
“The science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health,” Newsom said in a statement. “Importantly, the law allows three years for schools and school districts to plan and implement these changes.”
Middle schools will be required to start at 8 a.m. or later, while high schools will start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and schools will have a few years before they are forced to comply with the new laws. The later start times will either be implemented at the start of the 2022-23 school year or when a school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with its employees ends, whichever is later.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average start time for California middle and high schools is currently 8:07. Some of the state’s students were even required to be in class before 7:30 a.m. A legislative analysis in July found that about half the schools in the state would be required to delay their start times by 30 minutes or less if the law went into effect.
Per the LA Times, the proposal was backed by many politicians and professional groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, who said that it “recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as a public health issue, endorses the scientific rationale for later school start times, and acknowledges the potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety and academic achievement.”
But not everyone is on board with later start times. On social media, the biggest oppositions against the bill stemmed from beliefs that the government shouldn’t be able to dictate school start times, that changing start times would impact bus routes and end up costing the district more money, parents might not be able to drop their kids off before work, and extracurricular activities would have to run later into the evening. Others were super supportive of the decision — many of who were speaking from experience.
Definitely look into the research supporting later start times for high school students. It is pretty compelling and it might sway your opinion.