Students and staff stand behind new California legislation that pushes back school start times


Susie Seidel

Dressed in pajamas, seniors Teya Everts, Cate McBride and Nathan Clem walk into school at 7:15 a.m.. Everts believes that a required school start time at 8:30 a.m. implemented in California would benefit students. “I think kids would get more sleep which would help academics,” Everts said. “Even if [we] got home later, we would wake up later.”

Homework, school activities, work, family time, hanging out with friends. Among the priorities of high school students, sleep tends to rank at the bottom of the list. In order to encourage students to get more sleep, California has become the first state in the country to require a later school start time. High schools must start at 8:30 a.m..

This new legislation has been implemented in an effort to improve mental and physical health for students and ultimately enhance academic performance.

“I think teenagers need more sleep and have different sleep patterns than [younger] kids because they go to bed later and wake up later. Your brains aren’t generally turned on until the first or second period and mornings can be a struggle,” care counselor Rebecca Morris said. 

According to U.S. News, high school students average three and a half hours of homework per night.

“[Students] don’t get home from sports until 7 p.m. sometimes, but you want family time and have homework when you get home,” senior Cate McBride said. “Then, you don’t sleep, which causes sleep deprivation and poor concentration which can lead to poor grades.”

A later school start time means that extra curricular activities would end later in the evening, but sophomore and cross country runner Ben Taylor said more time for sleep outweighs a later evening. 

“Extra curricular activities would be affected. I usually get home [late] anyway, so that could cut into family time or homework time, but I think it would be worth it,” Taylor said.

Junior and St. Louis City resident Bri Davis said a later school start time would allow for more sleep and a smoother morning transition.

“Waking up at 5 a.m. is already hard, and then I already stay after school because of sports, so if we started and got home an hour later, I wouldn’t really mind because I could sleep in and prepare myself for the day ahead,” Davis said. “I think it would be a good thing to do and be more convenient.” 

While the proposition of a later school start time has been previously addressed without action, supporting research and a new precedent set by California could incite change.

“Studies have shown people learn better later in the morning, and so going to school early serves no purpose,” Taylor said. “I think [starting later] could be beneficial to our education.”