Santa Maria area high schools begin year with new later start time

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SANTA MARIA, Calif. — The first day of class in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (SMJUHSD) on Thursday brought more than just the start of the new 2022-23 school year.

It also marked the first day of the new state law that requires a later start time.

In 2019, the California State Legislature passed a law that requires all high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The same law also requires middle schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m. The new just went into effect on July 1, 2022.

The law was created to help provide children with an opportunity to receive time for additional sleep. In many districts, classes started in the 7 a.m. hour, which meant for thousands of students, waking up in the 6 a.m. or even 5 a.m. hour to get ready each day.

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On Thursday morning, more than 9,000 students in SMJUHSD, which includes Santa Maria, Righetti, Pioneer Valley and Delta high schools, began the new school year with classes beginning right at the new start time.

A new later start time also means a new later end time as well. The end of the school day in the SMJUHSD is now 3:55 p.m.

The SMJUHSD webpage that explains the changes said, “The district understands the challenges for our staff, students, and families that come with this change, and we did not make the determination to implement the schedule without considerable input, including negotiations and input with our bargaining units. We will be evaluating the impacts of the change throughout the year and will consider making adjustments for the 2023-24 school year if necessary.”

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