One good thing came out of COVID, 8:30 a.m. start times

Students+get+to+wake+up+later+for+classes+that+start+at+8%3A30.+

Madison Rojas

Students get to wake up later for classes that start at 8:30.

Madison Rojas, Columnist

Pasadena, CALIFORNIA– While COVID-19 stole many things from America’s teenagers, one thing was given back, and that was sleep. Here in Pasadena, Mayfield Senior students were lucky enough to roll out of bed at 8:00 a.m. and still make it to Zoom classes on time. When Mayfield began the slow transition to in person school, the later start time, 8:30 A.M., stayed the same, allowing for students to still keep around an extra half to full hour of sleep. Sleep is vital to the development and growth of teenagers and an added half hour of sleep may not seem like a lot, but it affects teens positively in the long run. When Mayfield Senior returns fully for the 2021-2022 school year, the 8:30 a.m. start time should continue to stay the same. 

Teenagers benefit from around nine hours of sleep each night. An adequate amount of sleep is necessary for academic success, physical and emotional health, and decision making among a plethora of other benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average teenager aged 13-18 sleeps less than eight hours a night, an insufficient amount of sleep. 

“Sleep helps adolescents reach their full height potential and also promotes better mental health and better moods,” Mayfield Senior’s school nurse, Nurse Cathy Cota, said. 

Sleep is necessary to help teenagers grow and develop physically and mentally. But, with the homework that keeps piling up and sports practices or conservatory meetings almost every afternoon, nine hours of sleep every night seems almost impossible for the average Mayfield student. 

In addition, adolescent brains do not release melatonin, the chemical that causes someone to become sleepy, until after 10:00 P.M. according to UCLA Health. Combined with busy school schedules and changes associated with puberty, going to bed early enough to wake and be in class at 7:50 a.m. is a consistent challenge. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayfield has taken strides to make the school process much easier for students, and that includes pushing up school start times to 8:30 a.m. Because the future is uncertain due to the rapidly-changing pandemic circumstances, no start times have been revealed for the upcoming school year, but many Mayfield students wish that class will continue to commence later in the morning compared to last school year’s start time of 7:50 a.m. 

Rising junior Sofia Olona ‘23 said she appreciates the extra sleep time. “Starting school at 8:30 a.m. has been a positive change in my schedule, giving me the opportunity to sleep in more in the mornings as I am often up late finishing my homework,” Olona said. 

Sleeping in for just one more hour every morning helps students work more efficiently during the day while allowing them to stay up later to finish homework. Going to bed early becomes increasingly difficult when students are required to juggle work from challenging classes along with after school commitments. 

Furthermore, sleeping in a bit later in the mornings also provides more energy for students later in the day. 

With the current school start time, Holly Hilman ‘24 said that, “I have more time to sleep in and I feel more energized in the morning.” 

In addition, the 8:30 start time allows for students to prepare for the school day. 

“The extra thirty minutes in the morning gives me more time to get ready without rushing,” Sicily Keyes ‘23 said. “I have more time to get organized as well as make and eat breakfast before school.” Having time to eat breakfast in the morning is extremely important. The later start allows students to make a hearty breakfast that will benefit them in the long run. 

Starting classes at 8:30 a.m. is also helpful for students who live farther away from Mayfield. 

“I have a far commute and a later start will give me more time to get to school in the morning,” Sofia Saldana ‘23 said.

 Students who have longer commutes in the morning usually must wake up earlier than students who live closer to campus but, the current school start time offers more flexibility. Students like Saldana can benefit from the extra thirty minutes in the morning. 

When planning the school schedule for next year, Mayfield Senior administration should take into consideration the benefits of the current school start time and allow for school days to start at 8:30 a.m. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of rest and sleep to the wellbeing of teenagers. The changes Mayfield has made to support students should remain for the upcoming school year.