House bill pushes back school start times

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Florida middle and high school students may finally catch up on sleep as a new house bill proposes later school start times.

Representative John Paul Temple, R-Wildwood, filed HB 733, which would mandate later school start times for most Florida middle and high schools. The bill would require that middle schools would begin classes no earlier than 8 a.m., and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The bill is linked to the loss of sleep in teens and its effects on their productivity, mental health, and overall behavior. The American Physical Therapy Association reported findings that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administered, stating 57.8% of middle school students reported insufficient sleep and 72.7% of high school students reported the same. These findings are concerning as stated that the American Academy of Pediatrics, an association that backs the bill, “recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as an ‘important public health issue,’ claiming that it significantly affects the health and safety as well as the academic success, of middle and high school students.”

The concept of later school start times is nothing new in Florida as two counties have explored the idea already. In 2017, Hillsborough County changed the start time for high schools to 8:30 a.m. as concerns of sleep deprivation and its effects on students’ health were expressed by officials with studies to back them up. However, in 2019, neighboring Pinellas County decided against pushing back school start times as they struggled to alter bus schedules.

However, changing school start times is an idea that could potentially come with a few issues. Some of these issues could include conflicts with parents’ work schedules, lack of time for students’ extracurricular activities after school, and challenges with bus schedules and other forms of transportation.

Jayda Miller, an elementary education major at Florida A&M University, understands that this change will be beneficial for students but wonders whether it will work out in the long run.

“I can see why the school start times should be pushed back especially when it comes to students’ health,” she said. “I think it would’ve been helpful for me and other students back when I was in middle and high school. I honestly do wonder how it’ll play out though because I can imagine the shift affecting things outside of school as well.”

If this bill is approved and becomes law, it would not go into effect until July 2026, allowing schools to inform families and giving them both time to adjust accordingly