California is going to become the first state to require later start times for some public schools. This move comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation into law Sunday.
The new law will be implemented over a period of time and will eventually mandate middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools to begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Times.
The new start times must be in effect by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year or when a school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with its employees comes to an end, depending on which comes first.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D) praised Newsom’s signing of the bill, saying research has shown later start times benefits students.
“Newsom displayed a heartwarming and discerning understanding of the importance of objective research and exercised strong leadership as he put our children’s health and welfare ahead of institutional bureaucracy resistant to change,” Portantino said, according to the news outlet.
“Generations of children will come to appreciate this historic day and our governor for taking bold action. Our children face a public health crisis. Shifting to a later start time will improve academic performance and save lives because it helps our children be healthier,” he added.
A legislative analysis from July found about half the public schools in the state will be forced to push back their start times by 30 minutes or less in order to be compliant with the new law.
The bill passed the state Assembly last month by an overwhelming majority. Those against the bill argued individual districts and schools should set their own start times.
Some rural school districts are exempt from the new law, the Times noted.
Newsom’s signature Sunday came on the last day he had to sign into law bills that the state legislature passed last month.