It’s early in the morning and the alarm clock has already rung several times. You have to drag yourself out of bed and rush to school, afraid of missing the first school bell.
As a school student, this is probably a common experience for you.
But thanks to new rules, many students in Zhejiang and Heilongjiang provinces can now stay in bed longer than before.
On Feb 23, the Zhejiang Department of Education published a new guideline that asks primary schools to start school later, reported Xinhua News Agency.
According to the guideline, start times could vary among different grades and seasons, with students in Grade 1 and 2 starting no earlier than 8:30 am. Some schools in Zhejiang province have been chosen to test this new guideline, which is expected to be used in other areas in 2019.
A similar guideline was announced by the education department in Heilongjiang province on Feb 24. Since the new semester began in March, students from all primary and junior high schools in the province have been required to arrive at school no earlier than 8 am. And senior high school students are now required to arrive at school no earlier than 7:30 am.
These changes are aimed at making sure students get adequate sleep and enough time for breakfast. Before the guideline was published, many primary school students in Zhejiang were required to arrive at school as early as 7 or 7:30 am, which left many of them arriving feeling tired and hungry.
According to a 2016 study by the Zhejiang Department of Education, only 54.1 percent of students in Grade 4 slept nine hours or more a night, while the required sleep time for primary students is 10 hours.
These changes have received much praise. “I definitely welcome the move, since this will ensure my son has enough time for breakfast, which is vital for his health and growth,” a mother surnamed Xu from Hangzhou, whose son is a first-grade student, told China Daily.
Pushing back school times isn’t unique to China. In the United States, schools in at least 21 states began to start school later in 2017, as various studies have shown that later school start times could benefit students, reported The Atlantic.
For example, according to a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, later school start times could help improve students’ health and study performance.
Just as Mary Carskadon, a sleep expert from Brown University, US, told The Atlantic, “Everybody learns better when they’re awake.”