My first period classes always bring an interesting twist to them. As I greet my students at the door each morning, they smile back with puffy eyes and lethargic nods. This is the class period where I have the largest percentage of my class either arriving late or absent and when checking in with students, it’s often as a result of oversleeping or waking up late. Any parent can tell you that getting kids up early in the morning to get them to school on time can be a great challenge as well as any teacher will be able to attest to the reality of sleepy students in classrooms across the state early in the morning. The state of California is making strides towards making later starts to the school day a reality for the young people who make up our student population.
Earlier this month, the state legislature passed SB 328, also known as the later school start bill. This bill would make it so that middle schools start the school day no earlier than 8 AM and high schools start at no later than 8:30 AM. The bill has now been sent to Governor Newsom for review where he will sign or veto of the measure. Ed Source reported that the analysis conducted by legislators cited the importance of sleep on school performance as one of the main drivers for the passing of the bill. As it stands, teenagers are getting roughly two less hours of sleep than is recommended for their development, according to a study conducted by Nationwide Children’s. One of the reasons for this shortened period of sleep is the fact that students are required to be at school so early in their day. Many schools around the state offer “zero” period classes for students which are an extra class period before their traditional school day.
There are long lasting effects to a lack of sleep in students. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Across all ages, signs of sleepiness turn up as behavioral and learning difficulties. Children who seem excessively sleepy during the day are more likely to experience problems with learning, attention, hyperactivity, and conduct than kids who aren’t sleepy. Sleepiness causes problems with concentration and mood, and can even make it hard for students to stay awake in class.”
Having a later start to the school day would allow for students to have the necessary sleep that their brains and body require of them. So many behavioral and academic issues can be prevented if additional sleep is made possible for the students in California.
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