New Jersey high school students to ‘hit snooze’ as board of education approves later start time
A high school in New Jersey will officially have a later start time as several districts in the state have adopted the same policy in the hope of providing kids an opportunity to get more sleep.
Students at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jersey, will be expected to arrive to class by 8:20 a.m. That’s 35 minutes later than their current start time of 7:45 a.m., a representative of Ridgewood Public Schools confirmed on Thursday to Fox News Digital.
The change will take effect for the 2023-2024 school year.
Classes will end for students at 3:05 p.m., with ninth period being available to students until 3:30 p.m.
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“In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that adolescent teens should be starting school around 8:30am and studies support this statement,” Ridgewood High School’s Principal Jeff Nyhuis said in a statement released to Fox News Digital.
Nyhuis went on, “In making this change to start school 35 minutes later, we are listening to the science, and supporting our students, and setting them up for increased academic success.”
He also said, “In addition, although we have a good attendance rate, I anticipate that this will have a positive impact on attendance and tardiness, and increase the focus and participation for the first period classes.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s 2014 policy statement titled, “School Start Times for Adolescents,” notes that “insufficient sleep in adolescents [is] an important public health issue.”
The AAP also wrote that a lack of sleep affects health and safety in addition to the academic success of middle and high school students.
“Although a number of factors, including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands, negatively affect middle and high school students’ ability to obtain sufficient sleep, the evidence strongly implicates earlier school start times (i.e., before 8:30 am) as a key modifiable contributor to insufficient sleep, as well as circadian rhythm disruption, in this population,” the AAP wrote.
Ridgewood parents and community members worked with the school to “research and propose” the time change, Nyhuis noted.
He added, “And I am excited to be moving forward.”
“I have already started working with our staff to discuss scheduling for the 2023-2024 school year, and I will continue to share information with the students, their families, and the community as we finalize the scheduling changes that we believe will be beneficial to our students,” Nyhuis said.
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On Feb. 13, the day of the vote on “later start resolution,” Bruce R. Young, former vice president of county activities for the New Jersey School Boards Association, posted the news about the vote on Facebook.
“Ridgewood school board passed a late start time for their High School students Starting school at 8:20 a.m. and get out at 3:05 p.m.,” wrote in the publicly shared post.
Several community members commented on the time change.
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“My nephew is very excited about it,” one man wrote.
“Don’t be surprised that in a few years all the high schools are doing this,” another man commented. He said he’s a parent of children in the district.
Other commenters questioned how this would affect, if at all, teachers’ contracts and start time changes made to after-school sports.
In New Jersey, there have been other school district officials who have adjusted start time for class.
The Highland Park School District announced its new start times for multiple schools — including one of its high schools which now has a start time of 9:02 a.m.
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The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that kids aged 6 through 12 years get 9–12 hours of sleep per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13 through 18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours, the CDC reports.
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