High school students get a half-hour reprieve with new bell schedule

Released August 3, 2022
High school students get a half-hour reprieve with new bell schedule

The first day of school, which is fast approaching, is the beginning of the 180 school days in which the students have to drag themselves out of bed at unnatural hours, hastily devour their scrambled eggs and endure half the morning class asleep.

Hoping to make mornings a little easier, on October 13, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill 328, which, as stated on the bill, mandates that “the school day for middle and high schools be no earlier may begin as 8:00 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. until July 1, 2022.”

Because all local middle schools start as early as 8 a.m., they were not affected by this bill. But the Acalanes Union High School District has had to change its usual schedule to start at 8:30 a.m. every day and get rid of the 8 a.m. starts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Newsom pleaded for this later start mainly to give students – especially high school students – more time to sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers ages 13 to 18 need eight to 10 hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, almost 73% of them sleep less than the recommended amount.

“Last year, on days when school started at 8 am, I had to get up at 6:30 am and only got six hours of sleep. Those days always made me feel a lot more tired and unfocused than days when I could sleep in until 7,” said up-and-coming junior Mika Strickler.

In addition to sleep schedules, the new start times will also affect students’ everyday lives. “I’m not a morning person, so my mornings get a lot easier because I don’t have to rush through breakfast and pack my backpack to get to school on time,” said Curtis Smith-Wilde, the aspiring sophomore.

However, not all students will benefit from the schedule change. “I live about 50 minutes away with traffic and on the old schedule I just beat middle school traffic. But the new schedule will add more traffic to my route and force me to wake up earlier, defeating the whole purpose of the bill,” said aspiring senior Reagan Kaelle.

Also, if school starts 30 minutes later, the closing bell will be 30 minutes later. The later end times will eat into the students’ after-school schedules. “I was looking forward to the new 8:30 start times because I would be able to sleep more, but now my after-school gym practices are pushed back due to the late finish times and I have even less time for homework, which means that I have to stay up later. Nothing has changed,” said up-and-coming junior Megan Yee.

Well-intentioned Senate Bill 328 doesn’t sit well with every student, but the ultimate goal is to get teens more sleep. Up-and-coming junior Jason Wagner thinks teenagers should take matters into their own hands. “There is nothing the government can do to get children to sleep more. Kids need to take responsibility for themselves and get their work done — instead of texting all day or hanging out with friends — so they can go to bed earlier,” Wagner said.

Hopefully, as the school year begins, students will adjust their morning and afternoon schedules while still making time for more sleep. Up-and-coming sophomore Campbell Staples will have no trouble with that. “I need my beauty sleep,” Staples said.

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