Tampa Bay high schoolers hit snooze button. If you or someone you know is a high school student, good news! The Florida Senate has just passed a bill that would lead to later school start times for many high schoolers in the state.

Under the new legislation, middle schools would be prohibited from starting the “instructional day” earlier than 8 a.m., while high schools would be barred from beginning before 8:30 a.m. This change would affect about 48% of Florida’s public high schools that currently start before 7:30 a.m., according to the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

So, what does this mean for students in the Tampa Bay area? Well, dozens of schools in the region would be affected by the legislation. Pinellas County’s 17 high schools start at 7:35 a.m. or earlier, while ten of Pasco County’s 17 high schools start at 7:16 a.m. or earlier. Hernando County’s five high schools start at 7:20 a.m. or earlier, and six of Pasco’s 17 middle schools start before 8 a.m.

But fear not, students in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Most middle schools in these areas start after 9:30 a.m. and would not be affected. Nor would Hillsborough high schools, which moved start times to 8:30 a.m. back in 2017. Hernando middle schools also start at 9:10 a.m.

The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Ron DeSantis. If signed into law, the changes would go into effect by July 2026, giving schools a three-year “glide path” to address any concerns.

So, high schoolers, get ready to hit snooze a little longer. Your school day may soon be starting later, thanks to this new legislation. TBT

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