California Students Get Ready to Sleep in Due to Later Start Times


Roman Arcos

Two of our journalism students, Jonathan Uriostegui (left) and Editor-in-Chief Ashley Ortega (right), hope to stay awake after the new later start times commence. Photo taken Jan. 22, 2020 in the Wellness Center at 8:53 a.m.

Wendy Rodriguez, Reporter

For some high school students, the constant lack of sleep can ruin their day. However, more sleep and wider awake students may happen with later start times in the next three years.

On Sunday, October 13, 2019, California officially became the first state to push back school start times. State Senator Anthony Portantino, is the La Cañada Flintridge Democrat who wrote the law. 

Senate Bill 328 is based on research that shows students are healthier and happier when they get to sleep in a little later. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law specifying that high school and elementary schools will start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools will begin no earlier than 8:00 a.m. According to the bill, the new start times of school districts in California must take place within three school years, if not sooner. 

Godinez Fundamental High School Principal Jesse Church, said, “ I don’t have enough information to question it, however, I do have some concerns. When school starts later, that means dismissal is later which will impact extracurricular activities and pick up time. It’ll be difficult for parents to drop off their kids at different times.”

Sophomore Jennifer Perez is one student who is happy about the later start times. “It is a positive change especially because I’m currently taking two AP classes. I usually spend 3 to 6 hours doing homework every day, which causes me to go to bed at around midnight each night.”

But Church is worried about how it’ll impact students at Godinez because “the vast majority of kids don’t live anywhere close to this school; they have to catch multiple buses.” Prior to the law change, Church decided to move school start times to 8:15 a.m. starting next year and dismiss students around 3:00 p.m. in order to have fewer kids impacted by late buses. 

Assistant Superintendent, Daniel Allen, Ed.D., who works for the Santa Ana Unified School District in K-12 Teaching and Learning. One of his main responsibilities is developing policy through the curriculum. 

According to Dr. Allen, the bell schedule is determined through a collaboration between administrators, teachers, and parents. They negotiate new changes and in the end, it has to be approved by the administration. 

Bryant Martinez
First-period journalism class listens while Assistant Superintendent, Daniel Allen, Ed.D., speaks concerning later start times. The photo was taken December 10, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. in the newsroom at Godinez Fundamental High School.

Dr. Allen said that the law applies to the district as a whole, therefore, the three academic school years will be a sufficient amount of time to plan accordingly and prepare students for this new change. 

In addition, the law allows for zero period to continue, in this case, it will start around 7:30 a.m. Dr. Allen said, “30 minutes is not drastic, because the schedule is just being shifted back.” He sees a problem for working parents and individual teachers because many have children to drop off before arriving at school.

“It hasn’t really been about the kids, it’s been more about the adults,” said Dr. Allen. 

As for athletics and extracurricular activities, he said that there will be logistical changes made such as sports shifting to morning practice, but stresses that for winter sports, it is difficult due to daylight savings.  

With this new change, underclassmen, teachers, and administration at Godinez are looking forward to it, while others see no difference.

It’s a step in the right direction for student learning and academic success”

— teacher Nicole Salazar

Freshman Jessica Martinez spends about two and a half hours on her homework and falls asleep around 10 p.m.“I don’t like this change because it’ll give me less time to complete homework since school will end later.” 

Algebra I math teacher, Nichole Salazar, believes, “it’s a step in the right direction for student learning and academic success because student grades and attendance will increase and perhaps truancy will decrease.”

Salazar’s beliefs align with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recommend children, ages 6-12, receive nine to 12 hours of sleep and teenagers, ages 13-18, should get eight to 10 hours of sleep. Reports have shown that 73% of high schoolers and 58% of middle schoolers do not meet these standards.

Sophomore Vanessa Alonso is one student who does not meet the CDC standard but does not want the bell schedule to change. She is part of the Distinguished Grizzly Academy, Associated Student Body (ASB), Key Club, choir, and takes one Advanced Placement class. Alonso said, “I don’t prefer the change because it’ll affect me due to extracurriculars who have me stay late for events or meetings. With this, it means I have fewer hours to work on homework before it gets dark.” 

English teacher, Laurie Jocham, disagrees. “It’s a good idea because students will have more rest and more time to prepare in the mornings. It’ll be a benefit for my students because if they didn’t understand an assignment the night before, they have access for help before school,” said Jocham. 

As school districts across the state weigh their options, Tustin Unified School District, located next to SAUSD, is not changing bell schedules next school year.

Mark Eliot, Director of Communications and Public Information Officer at Tustin Unified School District said the district is “Not doing anything till 2022. It’s still in the discussion phase.”

“One thing that I’m proud of being a principal here is that we have complete buy-in by parents, teachers, and students about the importance of being anywhere on time, particularly school,” said Church.

Soon, students will be sleeping in more and the constant early beep of the alarm will be a little further away.