By Lulu Levy, Staff Writer
// Staying up until midnight finishing homework and waking up at the crack of dawn to get to school by first period is the reality for many high school students. All the while, teachers, parents, and scientists urge students to get more sleep. In an effort to combat students’ unhealthy sleep habits, California now requires high schools to move towards later start times.
The Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) Governing Board unanimously voted on Feb. 16 to confirm the updates to the 2022-2023 school schedule, including implementing later start and end times.
According to SB 328, school days must start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. as of July 1, 2022. In accordance with this bill, the Board revised the AUHSD schedule, seeking input from AUHSD community members during their decision-making process.
“We were prompted to make the change because the law… [states that] the school day in a high school must start by 8:30. It is important that we get input from different stakeholders including parents, students, and, of course, our teachers and staff,” AUHSD Superintendent John Nickerson said.
In general, students have positive opinions about this law and its impact on high schools across the state and in the AUHSD.
“I think it will help improve sleep schedules because kids will be able to sleep in for just a little longer, which is going to make a big difference in giving teenagers an adequate amount of sleep per night,” junior Luca Mathias said.
Additionally, many students hope this change will help them arrive at school on time and be well-rested.
“For me, specifically, I feel like [a later start time] makes sense. I would love that. I don’t make it to school on time, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays, just because I get no sleep and my sleep schedule is already not good,” junior Ariel Shehter said.
The Board sent a survey to all students and faculty to gather opinions for next year’s schedule revisions and found that community members wanted to keep one anchor day, which is a part of the current schedule where students attend all their classes in a single day.
“The one thing that was pretty clear is that students, parents, and staff felt one anchor day was the right number to have. We thought maybe people had been interested in getting rid of it… But all three groups strongly supported keeping one anchor day, not adding one,” Nickerson said.
Students feel that keeping one anchor day in the week is optimal for learning and are glad that the District is maintaining it.
“I like [one anchor day] because I think it’s good to have all your classes on Monday but then be able to spend more time in each class throughout the week. That way, I think you learn the most,” junior Lily Hazel said.
Although students in the survey generally preferred a later start time and condensed day, most respondents felt that a consistent schedule and start time would be more beneficial.
“There were some disagreements in the survey regarding start time and end time. Parents were pretty clear that they wanted a consistent 8:30 start time, and staff seemed to prefer that as well,” Nickerson said.
The final decision for next year’s schedule will also extend the end time for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:05 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Some students are unhappy with this shift because of its intrusion into their afternoons.
“I think it kind of cuts into after-school time, which is unfortunate, but luckily only by a half-hour. So I think it’s manageable,” Hanzel said.
However, the later end time does not bother other students and they find it beneficial to their schedules.
“I don’t mind school ending at 3:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays because it doesn’t conflict with anything on my schedule, and it’ll also benefit students and parents because we won’t have to deal with the other schools’ traffic near us,” sophomore Gabe Gardner said.
Additionally, due to the later start time, lunch will be from 1:25 p.m. to 1:55 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is 30 minutes later than the current lunch schedule. Some students think that, even though lunch will be later, it is a necessary change to get more rest.
“I think the later lunchtime is fine because we have [brunch] where [we] can also eat and it will allow us to have the 8:30 start time so we are able to sleep more,” junior Jackson Voogt said.
Other students think that 1:25 p.m. is too late to eat lunch and are concerned about feeling hungry during class.
“I think [that lunch at 1:25 p.m.] will be a problem because I usually do get quite hungry before our regular lunchtime. Now that is getting pushed back; that is a bit concerning. So I think I should probably stock up during [brunch] with a lot of food, but [lunch at 1:25 p.m.] is one area of concern for me,” junior Krishna Ram said.
Overall, despite some community members objecting to parts of the new schedule, the schedule is ultimately a compromise that meets the majority of the community’s interests and goals.
“There is never a perfect schedule, and there are always things to complain about, but I think this [schedule] reflects what the vast majority of each group was looking for,” Nickerson said.
Pictured below is the finalized school schedule for the 2022-2023 school year: