Have you ever wished that school would start later in the day so that you could get more sleep?
In 2019, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, placed some restrictions on what time schools start. This bill, known as Senate Bill 328, does not allow middle schools to start before 8 am, and does not allow high schools to start before 8:30 am. Schools have until Jul. 1, 2022, to obey and apply the new schedule.
But will this really help the students have a better learning experience, or will it cause more problems than it solves?
To break down the pros and cons of this schedule change, let’s talk about why students actually want a later starting time for school. High school students are usually overloaded with extracurricular school activities ranging from sports, academic clubs and more. Because of this, students get home at a later time, leaving them with less time to do their class assignments and other things outside of school, causing students to stay up late up very late in order to finish their assignments.
But the implementation of this new guideline would not fix this problem at all. Instead, it pushes everything back to an even later time. Sports, clubs, are all going to be starting later and students will get home at an even later time.
The main issue that this change will affect is the students’ transportation to school. Many junior high and high schools have a start time of 7:50 am in the United States. Most working parents are required to report to work by 8 am as well. That allows a small window of time to either drive the student to the school or have them get on the bus. Advancing the time by an hour as proposed, to 8:50 am, would make it difficult for many parents to get to work on time.
What’s more, a later starting time for school could also encourage students to stay up later. Even if some students have relatively clear schedules after school, there would still be the temptation to stay up later each night because they could sleep in later the next morning.
Despite the problems that this new mandate change will bring, there are still some good things about this. If altered school schedules permitted them to sleep longer, they’d be less likely to be truant or tardy. A 2016 study looked at eight high schools that delayed their school times from 7:20 am to 8:35 and 8:55 am. They found a significant decrease in truancy and tardiness, with one of the schools citing a 66 percent decrease.
Furthermore, when running late in the mornings, breakfast is the first thing we usually skip. However, with this bad habit, students are left hungry, making it difficult for them to concentrate in class. Excessive hunger leads to worsened eating habits, especially because reaching for a bag of chips or a slice of pizza is easier and more appealing than a bowl of fruit or a salad. With extra time in the morning, students have the opportunity to eat a well-balanced breakfast and can focus on learning rather than their hunger cues.
In conclusion, a student’s academic performance and health are directly tied to their quality of sleep. Starting school later would introduce many new difficulties to the routines of families, as it would impact many things like school schedules, including extracurriculars, student jobs, and parents’ work schedules. In the meantime, students should just learn the value of prioritizing sleep.