School Starting at 8:30am

School Starting at 8:30am

Emilie Veazey (10th), Reporter

Biology plays a large factor in the sleep cycles of children and adolescents. Around the beginning of puberty, most adolescents experience later sleep onset and wake times, also called “phase delay”. This phase delay can shift the body’s internal clock back by up to two hours. As a result, the average teenager cannot fall asleep until 11:00 p.m. and would do best waking up at 8:00 a.m. or even later.

A later school start time helps accommodate this biological need. Overall care for sleep hygiene, such as having a good night’s sleep and following back-to-school sleep tips, can also help adolescents regulate their sleep. These are not the only factors that affect a child’s lack of sleep patterns. Other factors that affect student sleep are cultural expectations.

American middle and high school students often take on various extracurricular activities (such as sports, clubs, and jobs) which often extend into the evening hours. High school students also have more homework, late-night technology use, and fewer parent-set bedtimes, all of which may cause students to stay up later than is appropriate for getting adequate sleep. No matter the cause, countless studies have shown that early school start times are associated with students getting less sleep, which negatively affects student academic performance. Students with less sleep have difficulty paying attention in class and are likely to have lower grades, they may also experience irritability and fatigue.

A lack of sleep also has long-term physical and mental health consequences. Poor quantity and quality of sleep can lead to health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. While there are numerous benefits of later school start times, there are a few possible negative outcomes. Including scheduling conflicts, these may arise for athletic and academic competitions against schools with earlier start times and therefore an earlier dismissal. As well as transportation challenges, later start times will likely mean more busses on the road later in the day; this could create more traffic and increase travel delays.

Another conflict is childcare, some families rely on older students to care for younger siblings after school. This may be more difficult if high schools dismiss later than elementary or middle schools. However, these problems can likely be solved with flexibility and thoughtful planning. “I believe that a later school start time will greatly benefit highschool students because by increasing the amount of sleep students get it will better their school performance,” said Emma Walker.


This delay in start time for secondary schools is due to Governor Newsom signing Senate Bill 328 which gives districts until July 1 2022 to adopt and implement a new schedule.  Turlock Unified School District has yet to say if this will begin in the 2021-2022 or 2022-2023 school year.