Later start times is not the solution to student sleep deprivation


Cathy Li, Opinion editor and Copy EIC

In July 2022, California officially became the first state that requires high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Though Senate Bill (SB) 328 was passed in 2019, it was not put into effect until the 2022-23 school year. 

Supporters of this change applaud its mitigation of chronic sleep deprivation among teenagers, yet it is not as simple as that. A review of articles in support of the bill shows statistics about insufficient sleep and its effects on academic performance, but one thing is notably lacking: how SB 328 will actually help students get their recommended eight to ten hours every night. 

SB 328 takes a juvenile notion of arithmetic, believing that school starting one hour later automatically means an hour extra for students to sleep. The actual circumstances, however, do not fit into a neat equation. 

Pushing back school start times does not change the amount of work students are assigned; it only changes the time frame in which they can finish their work. From friends and family to homework and extracurriculars, teenagers still have the same obligations no matter what time school starts. Thus, it is logical to assume that they must stay up later to compensate for school’s later end times. 

In addition to ineffectiveness, SB 328 is inconsiderate of anything other than academics. Extracurriculars — activities that take place outside of school — must be pushed back to accommodate for the new schedule. Especially for time-consuming things like sports, students are not able to get home until late evening, leaving even less time for schoolwork. 

Regarding transportation, SB 328 is also a logistical nightmare. Many high schoolers rely on their parents for dropping them off, but the later start times do not fit many parents’ schedules. With the first bell at 8:30 a.m., it can be difficult for parents to both drive their children to school and get to work on time. 

Though SB 328 was a well-meaning bill that intended to address a prevalent issue among teenagers today, pushing back school start times is not the right solution. All it manages to accomplish is to create an inconvenience for negligible, if any, benefits.