California becomes 1st state to mandate later school start times

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law Sunday.

October 14, 2019, 12:26 PM

California became the first state in the nation to require later start times at most schools.

Senate Bill 328, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday, requires most middle schools to begin no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and high schools at 8:30 a.m.

PHOTO: students walking up stairs in a high school
Kris Timken/Tetra Images via Getty Images, FILE

A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that delayed school start times align more closely with the sleep-wake cycle of teenagers, leading to better overall health and school performance.

“Although a number of factors, including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands, negatively affect middle and high school students’ ability to obtain sufficient sleep, the evidence strongly implicates earlier school start times (ie, before 8:30 am) as a key modifiable contributor to insufficient sleep, as well as circadian rhythm disruption, in this population,” the study said.

SB 328 has not been without controversy while it made its way through the California legislature, however.

The California Teachers Association, one of the largest and most powerful teacher’s unions in the state, strongly opposed the bill, saying that that school start times should be decided locally.

“Local leaders, with this input, are best prepared to make these decisions that will best meet the needs of the students,” the CTA said on its website.

Schools have until July 2022 to comply with the new law.

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