Starting school later is not a a good idea


Photo courtesy of Bahn Mi

For me, weekdays usually start at seven, with my alarm waking me up from a peaceful slumber. I proceed to stumble out of bed, half-asleep, and go through my morning routine, usually thinking about how nice and warm my bed was. I leave for school, come home, do my homework and repeat the cycle over and over.

I am not alone in my suffering. Most FHS students go through this cycle of wake-school-homework-sleep, even if the “sleep” part is substantially less than what is considered “healthy”.

While the weekend provides a much-needed respite from this schedule, it is not enough. The weekend just does not fully compensate for the suffering endured on weekdays.

That suffering might go away, or at least be lessened, as the California state legislature has passed a bill stating that schools cannot start before 8:30 am. That law was signed by Governor Newsom on July 1, 2021, and goes into effect next year.

Having school start at 8:30 is a good thing. It means 30 minutes more sleep; it means 30 minutes more before school starts. At first glance, it is great!

It might seem like this is too good to be true — it is. 

Starting school later means ending school later. High schools in California have a minimum instruction time per school day, so starting school at 8:30 would mean ending school 30 minutes later.

That’s not a good thing.

Starting school late could be very problematic for people like me who have sports and after-school activities, as these activities can already end as late as seven. On top of that, we have homework to do. That in itself can take up to two hours, not to mention any evening extracurricular activities.

If school starts ending at 4:00 or 4:30, students could be getting home as late as 8 or 9. Pile on homework, eating, and other activities, and students could be sleeping way later than what is healthy for them. On the bright side, at least now my parents will not be able to complain about my sleeping habits — it will not be my fault I am sleeping at midnight.

I love the idea of getting 30 minutes extra of sleep but hate the idea of leaving school even later than I already do. Getting more sleep at night is better than in the morning. This is not just my preference — studies have shown that in terms of actual rest and rejuvenation, every hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice as much as every hour after.

So that thirty minutes is not going to make much of a difference if it’s not worth as much. 

The one thing I loved about middle school was its late start Wednesdays when school started close to ten. A day for sleeping in during the middle of the week was amazing, and consequently, Wednesdays were by far my favorite day of the week. I mean, who does not like sleeping in on a school day, and a substantial amount of sleep at that? I suppose that it would be too much to ask for, but it would be nice if Wednesdays could be like middle school. But that is probably not going to happen, and whatever I say about the school start time probably is not going to change anything. Next year, school will still start at 8:30. But that is fine, I guess. I will just have to suck it up and get used to having even less of a sleep schedule than I already do.