Late Start? We Love It! Or Do We?

Amanda Peck

 The year is 2022. It is your first day of freshman year. You wake to the ringing and buzzing of your cell phone’s alarm clock and check the time; it is 7:30 am. Last school year, you had to get up to prepare for school at 7:00 am. But this year will be different; you have a whole extra 30 minutes in the morning. 

   On Sunday, October 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that will require public and charter schools to have later start times in the mornings. Newsom stated, “the science shows that teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance, and overall health.” The governor added to his statement that “the law allows three years for schools and school districts to plan and implement these changes.” 

   For high schools, they will start no earlier than 8:30 am and middle schools are to start no earlier than 8 am. Rural and private schools, however, are exempt from this legislation. It will also not apply to zero periods and will only be a half an hour difference for most schools. This bill will go into effect by July 1, 2022.

   The reasoning behind this bill is for students’ wellbeing and health. According to the American Association of Sleep Medicine, teenagers must get eight to 10 and only one in four high school students nationwide get eight or more hours of sleep. Results of sleep deprivation in teens are obesity, depression, attention deficits, hypertension, and diabetes.

   The opposition to this legislation comes from people like Gov. Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown. In 2018, Brown vetoed similar legislation believing that individual districts should set their own individualized schedules. Although this decision for later start times may seem beneficial, there doesn’t seem to be enough scientific evidence to completely support this bill. It is a scientific fact that the majority of students don’t get enough sleep, but how much of a difference is an extra half hour going to make? 

   No matter that the start times will only make a minuscule difference, they will still make a big change in individual lives and routines. The parent of a West High School student, Gina Kang, said, “It is unnecessary. A half an hour is not going to make a difference. Now, parents will have to adjust their work schedule, unnecessarily.” Many parents commute from the suburbs to the cities for work as well as drop their students off before work. Changing the start times will mean parents will get to work later and have to stay later to make up the lost time in the mornings. It is possible that some parents may not even be available to drive their children to school, forcing students to leave home earlier to give themselves more time in the morning to walk to school.

   A West High School student, Kiran Abayaratna (12) shared his opinion on the later start. “It would help me get in an extra 30 minutes of sleep. However, where I know it will be beneficial… is nutrition. A lot of teens don’t eat breakfast, including myself. I only need about 15 more minutes in my morning to have time for breakfast. I think everyone can benefit from a little extra time,” he commented.

   This legislation may be beneficial in the realm of nutrition. However, when it comes to parents or guardians, the legislation will only be truly convenient and completely beneficial to students who can drive themselves, or live within a close walking distance from their schools.