By Lily Cam
Governor Gavin Newsom recently passed a law stating that Californian high schools must start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. by July 1, 2022. This law is completely reasonable because sleep is vital for growing teenagers.
The brain cannot properly function without at least eight hours of sleep. Sleeping less than the recommended amount can lead students to be unfocused in class, receive poor grades, get into vehicle accidents while commuting, and develop anxiety or depression. The delay could help this sleeping gap.
According to the National Institutes of Health, students with later start times were reportedly more alert and engaged. Their GPAs and test scores increased, and students showed fewer signs of depression and behavioral misconduct. A study revealed a 16.5% decrease in teen-driven vehicle accidents.
Teenagers are biologically wired to sleep and wake up later than adults. Most have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m., and many students find themselves waking up at 7 a.m. in order to arrive to class by 8 a.m. The issue is, most stay up later because of schoolwork and/or wake up earlier because of their morning routines or zero periods. In this system, many teenagers cannot receive enough sleep.
One issue with later school start times is commuting. The opposing side could argue that most parents’ work schedules align with the current school schedules. The change would force students to wait before school. However, parents can negotiate with employers to push shifts back. The law is recognized on a state scale; thus, employers should be receptive to these requests.
Students can also utilize other modes of transportation. The school offers buses in the morning that accommodate to those who arrive for either zero or first periods. They are easily accessible and do not currently require a pass. Those who do not live near these stops may live close enough to school to walk or carpool.
By Lauren Ballesteros
This change for later start times, however, is not as productive as it may sound because it can disrupt students’ daily schedules.
Forcing classes to start later does not come without consequence—with the later start times, the school day will also end later, which disturbs the current flow of the academic schedule. For instance, when it becomes the norm for most students to end school at 3:30 p.m., their after-school activities will also be pushed back half an hour. This leaves students no choice but to do their homework even later, which takes away precious hours of sleep.
Also, just because students start school later, it does not mean they will be able to arrive at school later. Parents, if unable to change their work schedules to accommodate with the new law, will be forced to drop their children off at school early—what is the point of having a later start time if some students are forced to arrive early anyway? Students who arrive at a time that works with their parents’ schedules will actually be losing sleep, since they will be forced to sleep later without the advantage of sleeping in.
Some may argue that the new law acts in favor of the majority of students who consider themselves night owls, allowing them to complete schoolwork during their prime time. Although this may be true, students may use this law to justify their unhealthy habit of sleeping past midnight. So, while this law was enacted in an attempt to allow students to get more sleep, it will likely lead to fewer hours of sleep.
In order to give students a real opportunity to get more sleep, the school day should be shorter, paired with more school days to meet the required hours of school per year. The late start times would be more effective if school ended at the same time as it does now. That way, some students would be allowed to wake up later, and all students will have ample time to complete their work and participate in their extracurricular activities.