Open the gates! (at 8:30)



Starting the 2022-23 school year, GBHS will begin at 8:30 a.m. per SB 328.

   Beginning the 2022-23 school year, all California public high schools, including RJUHSD, will open their schools’ gates to students at 8:30 a.m. 

   Joining nearby school districts such as the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, RJUHSD will abide by the bill Governor Gavin Newsome signed in 2019, stating that all California high schools’ start times should begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m. by the 2022-23 school year (SB 328). 

   Supported by the California State Parent Teacher Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the bill will improve adolescents’ health to address the “night owl” syndrome. The circadian rhythm in a teen’s body adjusts during this period of time, which releases melatonin later. Scientifically speaking, since students would not be able to fall asleep until later and tend to wake up later in the morning to fulfill their 9-11 hours of sleep, adjusting later bell schedules would be a benefactor to their health. 

   “I think it’s an opportunity to get a little bit more sleep and not have such a chaotic morning. Have a little bit more … time to get the day started … and be efficient in the morning and get some things done,” Julie Hansen, a stay-at-home parent to three children of which one is a freshman at Granite Bay High School, said. 

   Shagun Juthani, a sophomore at Vista del Lago High School (whose start times are already at 8:30 a.m.), is able to get an appropriate eight hours of sleep. 

   “It’s more than enough to help me maintain my focus at school,” Juthani said. 

   However, starting later inevitably leads to later end times to fulfill an adequate amount of school instructional time, and for VDLHS, school is currently ending at 3:45 p.m. 

   If RJUHSD adapts that late of a release time, extracurricular activities would also be taken on a toll, as multiple activities are pushed later in the evening.     

   Michelle Han, a freshman at GBHS, currently invests herself in tennis, which takes two hours four days a week, and speech and debate, which itself is a big commitment with practices after school and weekend tournaments. Her schedule after school would be packed and extended to even later in the evening when the bill goes into effect. 

   “However, … if you’re going to start later you’re also going to end later so … a lot of my (extracurriculars are) going to be pushed back later. I’ll probably have … less time … because I do most of my homework … in the evening,” Han said, “(and there’s a) perception that … since it’s starting later, I’ll just sleep … two hours later.”

   With more work in the evening, some students will be inclined to stay up later knowing that school will start at 8:30 a.m., meaning the late start model could prove to have no effect. 

   Many students’ working parents will be impacted as well, since certain jobs require early attendance. Transportation issues will arise, as a result. 

   “I do think it’ll be inconvenient for (my parents) because (my parents’ workplaces won’t) change the timings just because school starts later,” Batul Zanzi, a sophomore at GBHS, said, “I feel it is not that effective and won’t do much.” 

   Many students feel that the 45-minute difference won’t have a big impact on their health, as it just negatively impacts the efficiency of afternoon schedules, especially since 7:45 a.m. has worked for so long. 

   “Transportation is one of the bigger issues that we’ll be facing (with) schools with a different start time,” Gregory Sloan, an assistant principal at GBHS, said. 

   Working parents who have obligations at their occupations will have to explore various options to bring their children to school. 

   On the other hand, working parent Johanne Phan, a parent of a junior and freshman at GBHS, supports the bill and its positive health effects over bustling mornings or squeezed afternoons. She believes that both students and parents will be able to adjust to the schedule. 

   “Those parents (at Folsom Cordova Unified School District who has already started at 8:30 a.m.)  … have been able to adapt,” Phan said. 

   With both advantages and concerns on both sides, many have expressed their torn opinion of the bill. 

   Shannon McCann, an English teacher at GBHS, expressed her opinion that a better compromise would prove more beneficial. 

   “I just wish we can meet in the middle a little bit and … maybe we don’t need a full hour that maybe half an hour … would actually be enough to help students be a little bit more awake in the morning,” McCann said. 

   In a similar way, Hansen elaborated how both advantages and disadvantages can be spotted in this situation. 

   “I see both sides of the coin: the health benefit of starting later … and there’s a risk of the after school activities, with a later start schedule running later, and potentially causing a later bedtime for the students. And that, I think, poses a little bit of a concern,” Hansen said, “But I think the health benefits of more rest for the developing brain … and the mental health of the students maybe outweighs the concern I have for the hectic after-school schedule.”