Students in California's public schools will be able to sleep in a little later on school days under a controversial new state law. By the start of the 2022 school year, public middle schools can begin no earlier than 8am and high schools no earlier than 8:30am, reports the Sacramento Bee. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law into effect over the weekend, making California the first state to require later start times, per the Los Angeles Times. Proponents, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, praised the move because they say a lack of sleep takes on toll on grades, discipline, and health. "The overwhelming benefit to the health and welfare of children demands that we make those changes," says state Sen. Anthony Portantino, the legislation's author.
A fellow Democratic lawmaker, Assemblyman Todd Gloria, called sleep deprivation among adolescents in particular a "public health epidemic." Some schools currently require students to be in class as early as 7:30am. Opponents, including the California Teachers Association, say that districts should be allowed to set their own times. They also say many parents will have no choice but to drop their kids off at the same time they currently do, which will turn schools into de facto child-care centers before the bell rings. Some rural districts are exempt from the new law. (Screen time may not be as much of a demon as its reputation suggests when it comes to sleep.)