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Does later start time at school work? Some Vacaville students, parents aren't so sure

Some parents and students in the Vacaville Unified School District are not pleased with the school starting an hour later this year. Classes used to start at 7:50 a.m. Now they begin at 8:40 a.m.

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As the new school year begins, some high school students in the Vacaville Unified School District say they are having a hard time adjusting to their school's new, late start time.

Vacaville High and Will C. Wood High moved their start time from 7:50 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. in an effort to allow students to get more sleep. But now, one week into the new school year, some students and parents are wondering if it's really working.

"It's not that we gained an hour in our day or shortened the school day. They just pushed everything the kids have to do an hour later," Rojana Turner, whose 16-year-old daughter Emily is a student at Vacaville High, said.

Emily, who rides horses everyday after school for her extra-curricular activity, said getting out of school an hour later, at 3:40 p.m., has made it so "you can't get much done." Other classmates agreed and said they are now just going to bed later.

"I don't have enough time to finish my homework and do extra-curricular activities and get eight hours of sleep every night," Meghan Evans, 16, a senior at Vacaville High, explained.

Other parents who weighed in on the topic on local community chat groups said they are finding it difficult to drop their kids off later in the morning since they still have to get to work.

"Mom and dad's schedules don't get to change, but the kids are forced to either get to the school early, which can be a safety concern when they're younger...then they lose that hour," Tuner said. "They're not gaining anything."

The school district, and those in favor of the changes, cite research that revealed students suffer consequences if they don't get enough sleep. A spokesperson for the district also said they gave parents ample time to prepare for the change, which they announced more than a year ago, and offered to help parents adjust to the new time.

"You can't make something that works for every single parent," the spokesperson said.

Vacaville Union is not the only school district in California to try out later start times and it may not be the last. A bill that would push back the start time for all public and middle schools in the state to at least 8:30 a.m. is currently making its way through the state assembly.

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