You are currently viewing Are California high school students more perky with a later start to school?  – Red Bluff Daily News

Are California high school students more perky with a later start to school? – Red Bluff Daily News

On the first day of class after summer vacation at Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, senior Anika Bose had a little spring in her step heading to her first 8:45 a.m. class with a fresh cup of Starbucks in her hand. She wouldn’t have had time to grab that cup her freshman year when classes started at 7:30.

Over the past year, she and most of the state’s 2.6 million middle and high school students have had their school day shifted a bit later under an early state law aimed at relieve student sleepiness. Although the 2019 law that says high schools can’t start before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools can’t start before 8 a.m. only went into effect this summer, most schools have started making the switch in the past year.

How it works ? Bose can now sleep past 7:30 a.m. and has time to make lunch for herself and her younger brother before school starts. But because she gets out of class later too, she said she could barely see the ball at the end of practice for her golf team and was often up after midnight finishing her homework.

“When you’re in high school, no matter what time you wake up, you’re going to be tired,” said Bose, 17, who is also student body president at Wilcox. “At least I have time for coffee before class now.”

Students head to class at Wilcox High School for the first day of class on Thursday, August 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, Calif. (Photo: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

California has emerged as a testing ground for the movement, encouraged for decades by academics and health organizations citing research that teens and teens need more sleep and tend to become sleepy. night owls who naturally sleep later in the day.

“Studies have repeatedly shown that adolescents sleep more when school starts later, with research-based benefits for their physical and mental health, school performance and beyond,” said Elinore Boeke, doorkeeper. -speaker of Start School Later, a national nonprofit organization that co-sponsored the California law. “Student-athletes have better reaction times and fewer injuries. Children are more likely to eat breakfast, and teachers find children smiling and awake to learn in the first period. »

But as with the similar debate over expanding or ending daylight saving time and its vexing biannual clock switch that maximizes afternoon daylight in spring and fall at the expense of morning sun, the effort to move the first school bell was rebuffed.

Teachers’ unions and school boards opposed the California law, citing concerns about impacts on adult work schedules and family needs, sports and after-school jobs, and argued that this should be a matter left to local districts.

An earlier version of the bill died in the Legislature, and former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed another in 2018. With co-sponsorship from the California State PTA, the bill was eventually approved by the Governor Gavin Newsom.

Joy Wake, advocacy director for Start School Later in California, said schools and individual districts across the country have been starting classes later for decades without issue, and she doesn’t know of any dating back to from earlier beginnings.

“The initial change is disruptive, but this change and disruption is temporary,” Wake said. “But the benefits to (students’) health and mental health will be more long-lasting.”

Wilcox High senior Aiara Reyes might disagree. She said the change added to her stress, not relieved it.

“It’s harder to recuperate after school when it’s dark when you come home and have lots of work to do,” she says. “And if you take the time, it’s harder to do your homework and that can really increase the stress level.”

The law still allows “zero period” electives that begin before the normal school day, often chosen to fit sports or after-school work schedules, although not all schools offer them. And the law does not apply to rural school districts, which it does not define.

California School Boards Association spokesman Troy Flint said it’s unclear how many districts are observing the late start time law, but those that have changed are trying to ensure that there is minimal disruption.

“As expected, the new schedules present challenges for students who work part-time, are responsible for childcare for siblings, and participate in sports and extracurricular activities,” Flint said.

Last year, the Palo Alto Unified School District moved its first class of middle school to 8:30 a.m. and high school to 9 a.m. and saw no need for adjustments earlier this fall.

“Despite the concerns, it went relatively well,” Superintendent Don Austin said. “We have the same start time this year.”

Wilcox High School students
Wilcox High School students for the first day of class Thursday, August 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, Calif. (Photo: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

At Liberty Union High School District serving Brentwood and Oakley, Superintendent Eric Volta said the biggest headache of the late school year was coordinating their shared school bus network with elementary schools.

“We think we’ve solved that now,” Volta said. So far there has been no noticeable change in attendance or test scores, he said, and students have mixed feelings about starting and finishing school 15 minutes later, now 8:30-3:20.

“Some love it,” Volta said, “some say it doesn’t matter.”

When Wilcox High changed the clocks last year, it pushed tee times to 4:20 p.m., from 2:30 or 3 p.m., and many students — especially athletes — complained. Football coach and sporting director Paul Rosa said practices were happening so late that the kids didn’t come home until 7 a.m.

The school has made some schedule adjustments this year and classes end most days at 3:50 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the latest. It’s an improvement, Rosa said, but athletic participation has plummeted because students fear their grades will suffer from missed classes.

Wilcox Principal Kristin Gonzalez said, “School and district staff are doing everything in their power to balance and resolve these issues.”

“We want to do whatever is best for the students,” Gonzalez said.

Later dismissal deadlines also affect working children. Sahil Kumawat, a senior who works as a coach at Lifetime Tennis, isn’t sure how long he’ll be able to sustain an after-school shift without sacrificing academics.

“By the time the shift starts, I will be tired and still have to work four hours,” said 17-year-old Kumawat. “I will probably have to stop or switch to weekends very soon. But I certainly won’t be able to keep up with work and school at the same time.

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