California first to mandate later school start times

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Senate Bill 328, also known as the later school start bill, was signed on Oct. 13 by Governor Gavin Newsom and will make California the first state to mandate later start times for schools. The law takes effect in 2022-23, and high schools will be required to start the school day at 8:30 a.m. or later. 

A study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics explains that it is easier for adolescents to stay awake late at night. Evidence strongly implies that earlier start times contribute to lack of sleep and circadian rhythm disruption for high school students. The bill seeks to address this issue of sleep deprivation.

“There is a community and a group of people who truly believe a later start for teens will lead to better things for them, like higher achievement and more sleep,” Principal Debbie Stone said.

With the bell schedule adjustment will come changes in transportation services for students.

“It’s a big thing for San Gabriel High School because 80% of [our] students are not community students,” Stone said. “Students rely on bus transportation.”

For some students, this bill may allow for more time to sleep. However, this may not be true for others, depending on their personal schedules. 

“I might go home later and that will give me less time to do stuff that I need to do, which is inconvenient,” freshman My Phan said. “If I didn’t have a sport then I think it’d be okay, but since I do, I don’t really support the bill.”

School faculty will also experience a shift in their work schedules in accordance with the law.

“With any kind of large systemic changes there are going to be growing pains, ” English teacher Melissa Bishop-Magallanes said, “Nothing gets rolled out [easily] the first time around.”

The district will have to cooperate and discuss future changes with unions and the Almont League as it prepares to complete the transition by no later than July 1, 2022. An alternate deadline is when a school’s collective bargaining agreement with its employers come to an end, according to a statement issued by AUSD Superintendent Denise R. Jaramillo and the AUSD Board of Education.

“We don’t know how it will work out, but we will make sure it transitions well,” AUSD Board President Robert L. Gin said. “We [have] two to three years to plan for it and work with our unions, then it will be implemented.”

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