For decades experts have suggested that the school day needs to start later because kids need more sleep in the morning. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later.
Now Florida may be poised to follow that advice, but not everyone is happy about the change which would go into effect in July 2026.
On THursday, House Bill 733 passed the Senate with 38 votes in favor and two votes against. The bill would require the “instructional day” for middle school not to start before 8 a.m. and not before 8:30 a.m. for high school.
Mom Synthia Petitfrere draws on her own memories of school and believes that the later start times and potential for more sleep could make a positive impact. “In the morning you don’t tend to focus,” Petitfrere said. “I’m a young mom so when I was in high school, I know it was kind of hard getting up in the morning and first, second periods, kids tend to be sleepy or they end up coming late to school, so I think it could help.”
That concern is expressed in the bill, which says school boards must inform people like parents, students and coaches about the “health, safety, and academic impacts of sleep deprivation on middle school and high school students and the benefits of a later school start time.”
Only two state senators voted against the bill, including one in Central Florida. Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Windermere said in a statement to WESH 2 that she voted no after speaking with individuals from a school district with concerns about buses, saying that the same buses take the students to middle and high school.
“The concern is for funds to purchase more buses and funds to support more bus drivers and so until we can figure all of that out, I could not be supportive,” she said.
Shayla Beach, a concerned mother, concurred. “For me, I’m thinking about like when they get out. So they would be getting out later. I could see that posing more of the issue with them getting out late, especially with like they have a shortage of buses,” Beach said.
The legislation is still not a done deal, it needs approval from the governor.
If it does prove to be successful, it might lead to a similar change across other school districts where the issue of sleep deprivation in adolescents is a recurring topic of discussion.