Changing times

Next school year, RUHS will implement changes to the bell schedule, including later start and end times.

For the 2022-2023 school year, RUHS will have a new bell schedule, with school starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. It will take effect due to the Senate Bill 328 passed by Governor Newsom in 2019, which prohibits schools from starting before 8:30 a.m.  

Newsom’s bill was created and passed to help school times align more with teenage and adolescent circadian rhythms, or sleep patterns. Students will be able to sleep in a little later each day once the bill goes into effect fall of this year.

“I think it’s worth it to see what happens [with the changing start and end times],” Suzanne Kipp, English teacher and member of the Bell Schedule Committee, said. “I just worry that if everything is pushed back, students are just going to stay up later. I do wonder, with just a 35 minute push, how much more sleep teens are going to get.” 

Currently, school at RUHS begins at 7:55 a.m. for first period and at 6:55 a.m. for zero period. The bell schedule includes stacked periods on Mondays and blocked periods the rest of the week. This type of hybrid learning system is utilized in only about 7% of schools, based on a 2019 Always Be Learning, Inc. (ABL) survey of over 3,500 schools nationwide as part of their national project called Unlocking Time. Despite contrasting with the much more common full-time standard period (stacked) schedule (with all seven periods every day), which makes up 74% of school schedules, this schedule has been utilized by our school.

“[The bill has] allowed us to have an opportunity to really look at our [current] schedule and what we do well and what we can improve on. I mean, there is the option to push the schedule back thirty minutes and nothing [else] changes. But then I feel like we’d be wasting an opportunity,” Kipp said. 

The school has the option to only move the schedule back thirty minutes and change nothing else, but the Bell Schedule Committee could also capitalize on the bill’s change by making their own additional changes for next year, according to Kipp. Other suggested changes to the bell schedule would include adding a longer period of ‘flex time’ in the middle of the day and/or making every Monday a late start or early out day.

According to Kipp, flex time would be a thirty-minute period which, unlike in SSH, students could spend in any teacher’s classroom whose subject they felt they needed help with.

“It’s about student choice,” Kitaro Takesue, multicultural and AP English literature teacher and another member of the Bell Schedule Committee, said. “It’s the idea that students and teachers have the flexibility to meet student needs in a more efficient way than our current schedule provides.”

According to Takesue, flex time, which is similar to middle school tutorials, would hopefully benefit students and help them specialize in what they need.

Another option that may be added to the schedule are early out or late start days every Monday. On average, teachers whose schools go by a hybrid schedule get under six hours a week to collaborate with other teachers of their subject, according to the same national survey from ABL. With the addition of these changes to Mondays, teachers would greatly benefit, according to Kipp.

“Without teacher collaboration time, it’s a lot harder for teachers to do our jobs and make sure we’re not on our own little island,” Kipp said. “We’re looking at different ways that would give the teachers more time to work together and collaborate, to align classes and make sure that the standards are the same across the board.”

However, the schedule’s confirmation is still in the works. 

“Some teachers are wary of changes [relating to flex time] because they are concerned in terms of how it would be implemented, how students would be held accountable and how the needs of students would be best met,” Takesue said. “However, I think in the end, the benefits so drastically outweigh the drawbacks that we have to seize this opportunity to address some of the needs that have come up time and time again.”

The Bell Schedule Committee met again on Mon., April 25 and Wed., April 27 to discuss the new possible schedules, and will continue to. Takesue also encourages students to take action for themselves.

“I’d love to hear more student voices,” Takesue said. “I want students to know that teachers consider their opinions very highly, we would love to hear what’s being said. I think it would be wonderful for them to voice those in the next couple of weeks because I think it might help sway teachers who are on the fence [about the new schedule including flex time] to make decisions with student voices.”