New Rules

Bill will push back school start time to 8:30 in 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a new bill mandating that start times for high schools across California be pushed to 8:30. 

The change comes after a long struggle among California lawmakers for a later start to the school day. In 2017,  Sen. Anthony Portantino first introduced the bill, and it was vetoed twice, until signed by Governor Newsom on Oct. 13, 2019. Now, RUHS must meet the criteria of the bill, and is in the planning stages of changing the bell schedule. 

“It doesn’t have to be in place next year,” said assistant principal Marvin Brown. “We know that the bell schedule is going to change so the Union’s going to be involved, the Teacher’s Union is going to have a say in all that, how it all goes down.”

The students who will be affected by the new bill are the current freshmen who graduate the 2022-2023 school year, and all the grades below them.

“It would just be an inconvenience to everyone when it comes to scheduling,” said freshman, Madison Toth.

Students who take extracurriculars after school and play in a sport will most likely have their schedules pushed later into the night according to Brown. In addition, zero period will still be allowed to start before 8:30.

“I think we’ll adapt and adjust to it,” he said. “For this district there’s really not many concerns, luckily we don’t have transportation that we deal with. Some districts have buses and transportation that will greatly impact them”

The purpose of the bill is to allow students to get more sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a lack of sleep among adolescents leads to a decline in academic performance and physical and mental health due to their natural sleep cycles making it difficult for them to fall asleep before eleven pm. 

“I think policy should match science. That’s what we encourage kids to do, right? To find evidence to make good decisions with?” said tenth grade English, and College and Career Prep teacher, Kerri Eastham.

She thinks that in general, a later start time would be beneficial for students. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 87% of high school students do not get the recommended amount of sleep of 8.5-9.5 hours. 

“It’s really hard to maintain enthusiasm as a teacher if half the class is fighting off sleep,” Eastham said. “Because then the energy is low, and that’s defeating if you put a bunch of time into a lesson and the kids aren’t giving any energy back.”

Despite the possibility of improved sleep schedules, a later starting time brings up plenty of concerns among students. For example, work schedules of parents and a later start to the school day may not align.

“I leave the house at 7:30,” said Toth. “I would have to leave at eight o’clock, and my dad has to go to work at eight o’clock, and that would affect him being late.”

Also, homework in AP classes is unlikely to be cut back even if there is less time to do them. 

“If the AP test isn’t gonna change and the AP standards aren’t gonna change, I don’t see how the assignments would change either,” Brown said. 

Better time management and making smart decisions about class selections will have to play a role in adjusting to the shift in schedule according to Eastham. 

“That comes down to the family saying what can my child handle and maintain his or her health,” Eastham said. 

RUHS will be speaking with all stakeholders in the matter, including students, teachers, administration, certified staff, parents, and the Teacher’s Union.

“It’s not like an administrator decision,” said Brown. “It’s an everybody decision on how this all works out, so however it works out, everyone’s gonna have a say and everyone’s voice is going to be listened to and heard.”