New high school bell schedule change arrives unwelcome

The 2022-2023 academic year arrived with sweeping changes to California high school bell schedules. Students’ response? Change it back.

Bill No. 328, signed in 2019 by Governor of California Gavin Newsom but only made effective in July 2022, requires that no public high school start before 8:30 a.m., to which Glen A. Wilson High School (GAWHS) is no exception.

According to Start School Later (SSL), starting school later would improve student mental health by allowing students more time to rest in the morning before classes.

“Early school hours prevent many students and young teachers from getting the nine or so hours of sleep per night that most teenagers and young adults need,” SSL states on its website.

Sleep is a vital resource that enables people to tackle daily tasks with enough mental functionality to form proper decisions. But for students and their jam-packed routines, sufficient rest can be an uncommon pleasure. 

Now, two weeks into the 2022-2023 school year, many students like the new bell schedule. The later start time grants an extra thirty minutes of sweet unconsciousness and many students come to classes feeling more energized than they had in previous years.

However, this is not the case for all students. For some, the change is wholly unwelcome. Junior Aya Hashi shares why.

“I do not really like the current [bell schedule],” said Hashi. “It is so late in the day and feels so inconvenient—I feel like I have less time to do things rather than more. And I am getting about the same amount of sleep [compared to] last year, just pushed back.”

Like Hashi, many students feel that the new start time has been more detrimental than beneficial to their work-sleep schedule. Hashi also touches on her worries regarding her workload paired with the new bell schedule.

“[I am taking] AP and Honors classes, meaning [the new bell schedule] will probably have a negative impact and only let me procrastinate more,” Hashi stated.

GAWHS offers several college-level classes for those looking to earn some college credit while still in high school. However, such courses function as a double-edged sword concerning student health with the stress and workload they demand.

Ideally, the modified school schedule would offer students a much-needed reprieve from burnout, enabling them to remain on track, improving participation while still sustaining a high quality of work.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Freshman Iris Lee speaks on her experience with the new bell schedule.

“My performance in school will be affected negatively by this change as I now have less time after school to do extracurriculars, homework and more without it [affecting] my sleep schedule,” Lee stated. “I am getting less sleep due to [the new bell schedule] as I now have less time to complete [all my tasks], especially with the fact that Wilson does not have late start days anymore either.”

By “late start days,” Lee is referring to previous school year bell schedules, where there was a later start only once every week. Students were still getting out of school at the same time as usual, but their classes were cut short. 

Lee is not the only student who prefers the previous bell schedule. Senior Jasmin Vilchis expresses her sentiments.

“I do not like that because we get in a little later, we do not get to have late start days anymore,” said Vilchis. “I miss the late start schedule from my freshman year because we used to get in at 9:20 a.m. and that is when we could actually sleep in.”

Furthermore, the change in start time has had a negative impact on parents and guardians who drive their kids to school. Vilchis and her brother are an example of this.

“I have a little brother in middle school whose classes start 30 minutes before mine,” Vilchis said. “So I do feel kinda guilty for having to make my grandma make two trips to drop us off.”

Students are not the only ones who received the short end of the stick—many parents and guardians have had to adapt suddenly to the new bell schedule. Accommodating the later start can push back when parents get to work in the morning and when they get home in the afternoon.

Even so, the benefits of a later start cannot be denied. More reprieve in the morning can usher in a new era of mental and physical restfulness, preparing students to tackle the day with a clearer mind.

“I do like [the new bell schedule] because I can be less stressed in the morning—sometimes I sleep in until 7:30 and that extra hour helps,” Vilchis stated.

Students and staff alike can rest easy knowing that a new day is an extra half hour away.

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