Students get to snooze later due to state law in effect this fall
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (August 19, 2022) — Students now have more time to sleep, with a new state law pushing back middle school and high school start times.
In an effort to combat sleep deprivation and promote overall health, Senate Bill 328 says middle schools can’t start before 8 a.m. and high schools can’t start before 8:30 a.m. The law took effect July 1.
Clayton Valley Charter High School started classes Aug. 9 with a new bell schedule where first period starts at 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes later than last year. The end time is 3:20 p.m., 20 minutes later.
“The data shows it’s better for students, and we are going to support what is best for students,” said CVCHS operations director Alison Bacigalupo.
Northgate High School, which draws students from Concord and Walnut Creek, adjusted its start time from 7:55 a.m. last year to 8:30 a.m. this year. School ends at 3:18 p.m. every day, a significant change from when school ended at 3:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 2:25 p.m. the other three days.
“I feel like the kids are a little more alert, not so groggy when they walk in,” Northgate Vice Principal Tyler Rosecrans said. He added that early release for sports competitions might cut into the school day.
“It’s so much nicer,” confirmed Evalinne Vecchio, a senior at Northgate. “It makes it easier to wake up.”
Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat representing District 25 in Los Angeles County, sponsored the bill. “It is a science-based and results-driven policy that will save lives and improve academic performance,” he said. “The facts and results are unequivocal and clear: Our teens are healthier and perform better when school starts later. I strongly believe test scores will go up and suicidal thoughts will go down. It’s time to embrace this public health issue and put our children’s wellbeing first.”
The law, which becomes part of the State Department of Education Code section 46148 for pupil attendance, allows schools to hold zero period classes, an optional class start time before first period, and exempts rural districts from the start time mandate.
It also encourages “school districts, charter schools and community organizations to inform their communities, including parents, teenagers, educators, athletic coaches and other stakeholders, about the health, safety, and academic impact of sleep deprivation on middle and high school pupils and the benefits of a later school start time, and to discuss local strategies to successfully implement the later school start time.”
Karen Jenkins is pleased to be a correspondent with the Concord Clayton Pioneer News. She has worked as a community journalist on and off for three decades at publications including the Contra Costa Sun in Lamorinda; the Antioch Daily Ledger; the Avon-Beaver Creek Times in Colorado; Roll Call in Washington, D.C. and the Daily Nexus at UC-Santa Barbara. She is also the student advisor for The Sentinel, the student newspaper at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. She may be reached at Karenjenkins241@gmail.com.