Opinion: Law pushes school starting times back

Early bird gets the worm! I hate worms

Ryan Rackley is a tired student from Preston Billers 2nd period math class. How many hours of sleep do you think she got? Photo by: Sophia Denzler

Ryan Rackley is a tired student from Preston Biller’s 2nd period math class. How many hours of sleep do you think she got? Photo by: Sophia Denzler

Sophia Denzler

Did you wake up this morning and wish you had another hour to sleep? Have you ever fallen asleep in school?  If the answer is yes to either, I have good news for you. This is the last school year high school students will have to be at their first period before 8:30. Shown in the LA Times, California will be the first state in the nation to push back school starting times starting at the 2022-23 school year. The Senate Bill 328 states that no high school’s first period may start before 8:30 a.m. and no middle school before 8 a.m. This does not apply to zero periods, so those will begin before the appointed time. 

In the book “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep” by David K. Randall, his studies show that as teens go through adolescence, melatonin releases in the brain around 11 p.m.  This makes it near impossible for most teenagers to go to bed at a reasonable time to get enough sleep and wake up early the next day for school. A night of sleep from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. is only seven hours instead of the recommended eight to ten. If students had another hour or two to sleep, this could result in better academic results, more energetic and alert students, lower car accident rates in the school vicinity and higher SAT scores. 

With all these benefits, why would anyone be opposed? 

A later starting time also means a later ending time. This will affect after-school sports, clubs and extracurriculars. Getting home late with a load of homework waiting for you as soon as you step through the door is not ideal. This could affect many students’ arrangements to get home. Parents may not be able to bring students to school later due to their work schedules. This would be even trickier to figure out with a sibling to add to the mix. Some students could use this as an excuse to stay up even later, being just as tired at a later time and counteracting the effort put into this law. There is a lot to consider when deciding to change the schedule of nearly every school in the state. 

VHS English teacher Elizabeth Mainz said, “There are ways that schedules can be designed so that we don’t necessarily have to end later anyway, things like block scheduling if we’re starting later, how do we make sure that we’re not ending at like 6 p.m.? Well, if we just see less classes for like more time in the day, then there’s still that dayish order, so I think there are some creative solutions to be had.”

Dr. Mainz has opinions and ideas to be heard about Senate Bill 328 passed by Gov. Newsom. Mainz supports this decision to push back school starting times. Photo by: Sophia Denzler

Mainz agrees with the decision to push back school schedules for older kids. “There’s more than enough research to prove that older kids need to sleep later, like they can’t start school so early. I know it presents some problems, but I think on the whole it’s pretty good and healthy. Like I said, the research has been out there for years and years, and it feels like it’s taken forever to get people to acknowledge that it is something that we should pay attention to.”

This year, we have one day a week where we get to start at 8:30 a.m. So,if you have ever been grateful the night before for this or felt more ready before school, next year will be like that, every day. 

“It seems like on Wednesday kids are a little more ready to go even by second period, I think there’s sort of a golden time in the morning where it just is nice,” Mainz said.

Junior Sydney Straetz agrees with the decision to change starting times.“I have to wake up at 5:30 most days to be ready on time. I usually stay up until midnight finishing homework, meaning that on average I only get five and a half hours of sleep.”

This shows the workload put on students and how waking up early the next morning affects their performance and well-being. 

“Though I do not see it having a major impact on my personal grades, I think there are some students that could greatly benefit from it. I also think that getting more sleep would improve everyone’s mental health at least a little bit.” Straetz said.