On October 13th of 2019, the governor of California signed Senate Bill 328 (SB 328) that requires middle schools to start no earlier than 8:00 am, and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 am in response to the rigor of school coursework and extracurricular activities that encourage students to stay up late to finish homework; this in turn decreases students’ attention span and productivity throughout the school day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students who do not sleep enough are prone to have more attention, behavior, and health problems, and have a lower academic performance in school than students who do get enough sleep. Additionally, it is recommended that students ages 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep and seven out of ten students are not getting enough sleep according to a study conducted by the CDC in 2019. By delaying the start time of schools, California aims to increase academic productivity and performance in middle and high school students by allowing them to get more sleep. This raises the question of how beneficial would changing the school start times actually be.
Many school districts claim that pushing back start times can be a ‘logistical nightmare’ as many schools in the same area all start and end at different times to control traffic. Additionally, school districts claim that delaying school start times would be a conflict with bus schedules, with after school sports, and will not promote healthy sleeping habits. If schools start at a later time, they will most likely end later in the day as well, and students who participate in sports and extracurriculars will get home later at night as well.
In addition, not all schools are legally required to comply with the new bill. SB 328 specifically exempts schools that serve primary students (such as K-8 schools), and also schools that are classified as rural ( schools that are a certain distance away from urbanized areas or clusters) as a result of the logistical challenges of transportation and bus schedules. This bill also states that schools may hold a zero period if they choose to. However, , it cannot be counted into the instructional minutes required for that day, which poses many challenges to schools to create a bell schedule that comply with this bill. On the other hand, it also allocates time for extracurriculars and sports that students may be interested in participating in.
The signing of SB 328 sparks debate amongst many, and other states have also suggested an implementation of a similar bill as well. There has been a lot of discussion within Leigh High School and the CUHSD district, and it’s expected that hundreds of students state-wide are all curious to see how this bill will change their school experience and performance.