PRO: Will the new school start times benefit students?

On October 6, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law prohibiting high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Pushing back high school start times has been a source of controversy since the suggestion first emerged in the early 1990s, and since then, more and more schools have been shifting start times later.

Michael Thomas, Staff Writer

Walking through Bear Creek’s halls at 6:50 a.m. is an unsettling sight; sleep-deprived teenagers weighed down by their books in their arms and the bags under their eyes, wander the nearly dark campus

Althoughit’seasytoseeproblemswithalatestarttime, the benefits are numerous and imperative while the downfalls are mere inconveniences at best.

According to the CDC, 70 percent of teenagers are classified
as chronically sleep-deprived. Such sleep deprivation is associated with depression, inattentiveness, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and risk-taking behavior.

The only remedy to such widespread issues is pushing back start times. During puberty, teenagers produce the sleep-inducing chemical melatonin on a delayed schedule, meaning it’s difficult to feel tired earlier than 11:00 p.m. Thus, a teenager who goes to sleep at 11:00 p.m. shouldn’t wake up until 8:00 a.m. for a healthy night’s sleep.

The ideal wake up time for teenagers is about halfway through Bear Creek’s first period. Judging by the sluggish feel of most first period classes, which begin at 7:20 a.m., this sounds about right.

Opponents of later start times argue that school would end later, so consequently, sports would end later and students would have to stay up later doing homework. However, research shows teenagers can’t sleep until the later hours anyway, so really, 3:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m. are the prime hours for teens to work.

Of course, there will there be issues with pick-up and drop-off as parents adjust to the new schedule, but inconveniencing parents is a minor issue compared to the massive benefits to student health.

Is this new law the end-all solution to teenage sleep-deprivation? Of course not. But a later start time is a huge step toward nurturing a group of healthy, productive teenagers with open eyes and active brains.