In a show of support for science and child health, California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 328 (SB 328) into law. The bill, introduced by Senator Anthony Portantino, was passed by the state legislature and sent to Governor Newsom for approval. Under this new law, California’s middle schools can start required classes no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Specific scheduling within those parameters is left to local school districts, with allowances made for some rural communities. The guidelines go into effect in the 2022 school year for most districts.
“California parents, doctors, and, most importantly, sleep-deprived teens are thrilled that Governor Newsom signed the Healthy School Start Times Bill into law,” stated Joy Wake, co-leader of Start School Later California, a chapter of the national nonprofit Start School Later. “We thank the Governor, and the bipartisan support of the California legislature, for enacting this pivotal children’s health legislation. These leaders recognized that they have the authority, responsibility, and moral imperative to protect adolescents from school start times that are scientifically proven to harm teen health and safety.”
The law is based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other health, education, and civic groups that have been calling for changes in school start times as early as 1993. Adolescents experience a later shift in sleep cycle during puberty, and research has consistently shown that later wake times for teens can improve academic functioning as well as boost health and reduce teen car crashes. SB328 was co-sponsored by Start School Later and the California State PTA, with strong support from the California Medical Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Psychiatric Association, and myriad health, education, and safety organizations. In a unique move, over 120 research and health experts from around the nation signed a consensus letter supporting the bill.
“California has just made child protection and public health history with legislation to ensure healthy, safe, and equitable school hours,” said Terra Ziporyn Snider, PhD, Start School Later’s Executive Director and Co-Founder. “States across the nation should now feel empowered to follow California’s lead.”
School administrators and state lawmakers who wish to learn more about the science behind healthy school start times are encouraged to visit the website of Start School Later at www.startschoollater.net.