A move to start classes for primary school students later in the day in Zhejiang and Heilongjiang provinces has received a warm response from parents, teachers and young students.
The Zhejiang Department of Education issued a guideline on Friday that would allow primary schools to adjust the starting time for classes on their own, with first-and second-grade students beginning no earlier than 8:30 am.
The move is designed to ensure that students get ample sleep of at least 10 hours per night and enough time for breakfast. An education assessment in Zhejiang in 2016 showed that students who eat breakfast every day far outperform those who only eat breakfast irregularly.
The guideline also allows primary schools to shorten each class to between 35 and 40 minutes in the morning because of the later start.
It asks all city-level education authorities to select at least one district for a trial reform this year, and promote it further in 2019.
On Saturday, the education department in Heilongjiang province issued a similar guideline, asking all primary and junior middle schools in the province to allow students to arrive no earlier than 8 am. It also said senior middle schools should ask their students to arrive at school no earlier than 7:30 am.
The two guidelines are believed to be the first such implementations at the provincial level. Before that, a few cities, including Hangzhou, Zhejiang province and Changsha, Hunan province, made similar moves.
The Zhejiang education authorities began trials of later starts in Hangzhou's Gongshu district, as well as in Ningbo and Jiangshan last year.
Zhao Qunyun, director of the education department in Gongshu, said that since the trial started in September, no complaints have been received from students, parents or headmasters.
"I definitely welcome the move, since this will ensure my son has enough time for breakfast, which is vital for his health and growth," said a public servant in Hangzhou surnamed Xu, the mother of a first-grade student.
"For him, even sleeping for 10 more minutes a day counts."