NJ Legislature Moves to Make High School Start Times Later

If passed, the change will be implemented in September 2024 to help promote student health and well-being.

Elisabeth Bent, Contributing Writer

Last month, New Jersey Legislators proposed a bill to begin the high school day later in order to support teenage mental health and better rest. A high school in Morris County has already decided to move their start time forward by forty minutes beginning this September. They hope to promote better teenage mental health, and more specifically allow for more rest for teens who are not getting enough sleep.

Two state lawmakers, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and State Senator Vin Gopal, suggested that high schools in New Jersey should not start earlier than 8:30 a.m., and contrary to belief, studies show that students maintain the same sleep schedule in the evening even when they wake up later.

As a high school student at HMHS, I feel more awake and ready for the day on a block day when school begins at 8:15 a.m., as opposed to the regular days when I dread getting out of bed to arrive in time to start at 7:57 a.m. Apparently, our school used to begin even earlier, but many students were often tardy for the first morning class. As someone who has overslept and been tardy, I have personally witnessed the long line at the attendance office. I agree that high schools and our school should begin the day at 8:30 a.m. for the sake of the student’s mental health. Though there is a worry for adequate time for after-school sports, I believe it would not be altered too much and could be similar to the middle and elementary school times. If there is concern for excessive traffic at the end of the school day, perhaps the younger grades should begin sooner as they are typically the ones jumping out of bed anyway, so I’m sure their parents would be happy to get them to school sooner too!