Ridgewood Board of Education approves later start time for high school students

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
New Jersey high school considering later start time for students
High school students in Ridgewood might get some extra time to sleep in, but probably not in time for next school year. Anthony Johnson has the story.

RIDGEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- High school students in Ridgewood will get some extra time to sleep in starting this fall.

The Board of Education in Ridgewood, New Jersey, voted Monday to approve a later start schedule for high school students.

The measure was backed by the high school's principal and will push the start time 35 minutes later, from 7:45 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.

That will make the end of the school day just 15 minutes later, finishing at 3:05 p.m. instead of 2:50 p.m. There will still be an optional 9th period for those who want extra help.

The board had a full presentation about the amount of sleep teens require, which is nine hours a night. It has been determined that the natural circadian rhythms of teens make them stay up later and need more rest in the morning.

Officials say it's all an effort to help high school students become more focused and aware in the morning.

"We would talk to a lot of our teachers and they would say that first period in the morning, luckily we have a rotation, but they would tell you that first period is tough," Ridgewood High School Principal Jeff Nyhuis said.

The later start of school is already in effect in districts in Bergen and Morris counties.

For now, only the high school's nearly 1,800 students will be affected. A proposal to change the middle school schedule was put off for now. The plan could be in place by the 2024-2025 school year.

The plan was also presented by Ridgewood pediatrician Anne Robinson. The district did a long-term study of the impact of a later start on high school student sleep patterns and wakefulness after recommendations from several children's health organizations of its benefits for teens.

Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering legislation to make the earliest allowable school start time to be 8:30 a.m. for schools receiving state aid, but the bill is still in committee.

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