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New law requires later start times for high schools and middle schools

Posted at 6:09 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 22:19:57-04

A new law means later start times for California middle and high school students this school year.

School starts in ten days at Arroyo Grande High School and this year, first period will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:55.

“I have a teenager at home that goes to one of our high schools and he was really excited about it,” said Hillary Dixon, Assistant Superintendent for the Lucia Mar Unified School District.

Back to school is off to a later start as students and staff get ready for a new school year.

“It should allow for students to be hopefully a little more actively engaged in the morning with a later start time,” said Dan Neff, Principal at Arroyo Grande High School.

The new state law requires high schools to start at 8:30 in the morning at the earliest.

Middle schools can’t start any earlier than 8 a.m.

“The reason the law was created was based on research that said teenagers need to sleep in a little bit more in the morning,” Dixon said.

The move is being met with mixed reactions as students and staff adjust to the later start times.

For middle school, it’s only a five-minute difference but for high schools, it’s over a half-hour later.

“There are definitely people who are excited about it. I’d say that’s mostly students,” Dixon said. “For the adults involved, both staff and parents, it’s a big change. It’s not something that everybody is excited about.”

The Lucia Mar Unified School District is adjusting start times at all 19 of its schools due to adjusted bus schedules.

The impacts are wide-ranging as the district gears up for a new school year.

“You can look at curriculum planning all the way down to people’s duties — when a custodian comes in the morning, when we need to have referees for a game,” Neff said. “So it does reverberate out across the entire school and all the interactions that happen with it.”

A later start time means that school won’t be out until 3:35 p.m. at AG High.

Coaches and players are working to adjust practice schedules as fall sports get underway.

Districts across California are required to adopt the new start times.

There are exceptions for more rural districts such as Atascadero.