Newsom signs bill pushing school start times but California officials are divided

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California students will soon be able to hit the snooze button thanks to legislation signed by the governor.

More time for her kids to dream sounds like a dream come true for Sacramento mother Jasmine Thompson.

“Everybody who has a kid or has been a kid knows that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re grumpy and not ready to learn,” Thompson told FOX40.

In a few years, they will have that extra rest after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Sunday delaying school start times.

“They’ll be going to school about a half an hour later,” Thompson said.

Starting in 2022, middle schools will be required to start classes at 8 a.m. or later while high schools will have to start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

But not everyone is on board.

“It doesn’t appropriately account for the differences in local communities and how that impacts the schedule they need to have,” said California School Boards Association spokesperson Troy Flint.

Flint argued the decision should be up to each individual school district, saying it will be a hardship for lower-income and working families.

“It’s going to prevent some of those students from having extracurricular opportunities, from working after-school jobs and, in many cases, parents with inflexible schedules will not be able to adjust their schedules and then will still be dropping students off earlier are presenting a safety risk as well,” Flint said.

However, Celia Jaffe, the president of the California State Parent Teacher Association, claimed the benefits of extra sleep for students outweighs any inconvenience.

“More sleep leads to better mental health, less depression, leads to better achievement, learning increases, and it leads to happier and healthier kids. So, what’s more important than that?” she said.

Jaffe pointed to studies from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that show shifting biological rhythms during puberty mean teens need to sleep later in the morning.

“The actual quality of the sleep in the morning is different, it’s more restful,” Jaffe explained. “So, you can’t just take an hour from the morning and put it the night before and have it be the same.”

Ready or not, the new rule is coming. It will be up to school districts to make the later start times work.

Sacramento City Unified School District said it has not decided whether it will offer child care in the morning with the later start times. They will also have to work out new bus schedules.

That will all be part of conversations in the coming months.

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