On Sunday California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 328. The bill requires that schools push back starting times in an effort to give teens more sleep. Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed similar bills in the past saying it was a decision best left to the school districts. The bill makes California the first state in the nation to require later start times for schools.
The bill will exempt rural schools due to bus scheduling and also exclude zero periods because they are optional courses. The law will take effect for the 2022-23 school year. Districts can start earlier if they choose. Middle schools can start no earlier than 8 am and high schools no earlier than 8:30am. The bill also only applies to public schools.
The Center for Disease Control and medical organization supported the later starting times citing studies that a lack of sleep for teens leads to lower grades, missing school, and depression.
The California Teachers Association and state school board and administration group opposed the bill, saying
“While well-intentioned, proposals to mandate school start times fail to take into account the complexity of the issue and perpetuate the illusion that adolescent sleep deprivation has a simple fix,” two San Jose superintendents, Chris Funk of East Side Union High School District and Nancy Albarrán of San Jose Unified, wrote in a commentary for EdSource. “Those of us working in school systems will tell you that setting school start and end times requires balancing many factors, including the needs of students, parents, and staff as well as the financial impact on school districts.”
Some working parents have also expressed issues with the change and getting their kids to school at a later hour.