California Passes Bill to Start School Later
A bill has been passed to start K-12 classes at 8:30 a.m. in California due to overly-tired students and the problems that result.
California lawmakers have passed a bill to start schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. so students can get more sleep.
The push for this bill is backed by studies and research that show students are not getting enough sleep, which can directly affect student and school safety.
In a study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of high school students are not getting the recommended hours of sleep on school nights. This can lead to marijuana and alcohol use, lack of exercise and suicidal thoughts.
Sleep deprivation can also be associated with increased car crash rates involving teens.
Making the switch to later start times, however, has its own issues, especially for parents with jobs, according to the LA Times.
“Even without an early time slot, I’ve often seen kids dropped off at school by 7 a.m. or earlier,” said Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva.
A later start time could also cause problems for the school district. Renegotiating contracts and rescheduling extracurricular activities might be difficult. Staggering the bus schedule might result in districts needing to buy more buses.
California’s governor has until the end of the month to pass this bill into a law, reports CBS News.
Dr. Carol Ash, a sleep expert with RWJBarnabas Health, hopes this law becomes a reality.
“When they [students] don’t get the sleep they need, it can cause poor academic performance, drowsy driving, depression, loneliness, social isolation, addictive behaviors and weight gain.”
According to Ash, sending kids to bed earlier is not a solution to this problem, despite parents’ best intentions. Melatonin gets released into the brain of an adolescent later than it would for an adult, making it harder for them to fall asleep at night.
“The cost of sleep loss is astronomical,” Ash said. “Poor academic performance, absenteeism at school. And federally funded dollars are attached to the absenteeism rate.”
When students get the recommended hours of sleep at night, they can see benefits in alertness, mood and health. You can read more about this here.