New school year brings new start times, possible lower enrollment

Sleep scientists say later start times are proven to lead to better academic performance and a reduction in behavioral problems.

It’s the first day of the new school year for Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) students, and there are a few changes coming.
Hit snooze: Thanks to a law passed in 2019 and going into effect for the first time this school year, PSUSD middle and high school students start class a full hour later at 8:45 a.m. 

  • Sleep scientists say later start times are proven to lead to better academic performance and a reduction in behavioral problems. All because teens just need more sleep than the rest of us. 
  •  Critics of the move say this just means kids will get out of school later in the day. That pushes back after-school activities like theater and sports, which means kids will finish practice late into the night, eating away at family time and time for homework.

Worth noting: PSUSD’s elementary schoolers will start an hour earlier this year at 7:45 a.m. The hour separation in start times between middle and high school and elementary school takes the pressure off the district’s bus service, which has been experiencing a lack of drivers.

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  • PSUSD parents have been notified of all the time changes, and those “zero periods” that are held before school starts will still be happening but won’t be as early as they used to be. 
  • The time changes aren’t set in stone. The district says it will reevaluate the start times once planning for the next school year begins.

All these time changes mean your commute will look a little different as traffic starts to build up around schools close to drop-off times. 

Zoom in: Projected enrollment for the coming school year is estimated to be about 350 students fewer than last year, but we won’t know actual enrollment numbers until October. 

As for the teachers, PSUSD isn’t suffering from the critical teacher shortage many other districts are. They have just seven vacancies, five for high school and two for middle school.

  • The district hired almost 160 new teachers for the start of the school year.

 FYI: We’re still in a pandemic, so the district says masks are “strongly recommended” but not a requirement, and there is still no vaccine requirement for students.


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