Last year, California passed a law requiring all high schools to start no later than 8:30 A.M. Due to recent research, the state believes that pushing back start times would allow students to be more academically productive. Currently, most school days start earlier than 8:30 a.m., and California’s initiative has students questioning whether or not the school day in New Jersey should start later.
The school day officially starts at 7:45 A.M. However, many students arrive before that time. Typically, students who ride the bus have to be at their bus stops around 7:00 A.M, and arrive at school between 7:15 and 7:30 A.M. As a result, many students wake up between 6:00 and 7:00 A.M, leaving them tired and unfocused during class. In addition, homework and extracurricular activities cause students to go to sleep at a late hour, which means that early wake-up times can result in even more sleep-deprived students.
Tired students cannot properly learn and as a result, teachers have their time wasted as well. Allowing students to sleep longer will give them the energy to actively participate in class and do well on their exams.
Junior Sophie Lugo argued in favor of pushing back the school day. She said, “It would give me more time to sleep and be more awake during school, which improves productivity.”
On the other hand, senior Nick Sternheim disagreed. Although he agreed that sleep-deprived students are a serious problem, he did not believe a later school day would make a difference. He said, “Not a fan of it. The school day would be pushed back, and I would rather leave school early. I think there would be a large percent of students who would go to sleep [even] later.”
With a later school day, students would just go to sleep later, which would not provide them with more sleep than before. Therefore, pushing back the starting times would change nothing.
Several students agreed with Sternheim’s point. Senior Mark Marino added, “I like having my afternoon and I really don’t want to come back [home] any later.” Students would lose their afternoon because of the later school day, resulting in less daylight time and inconvenience.
Christine Talarico, English teacher, also felt that pushing back the school day would be problematic: “It would be a logistical nightmare and any extracurricular would inevitably go later into the evening. For example, the students in the fall play would still practice for 4 hours, regardless of when school ends.”
Since school would end later, extracurriculars would start later. However, this does not change the amount of time that students participate in extracurriculars or in part-time jobs. Students would ultimately return home later, start homework later, and sleep later.
Although shifting back school starting times seems attractive, many students felt it would resolve nothing because students would simply be continuing their current sleep cycles, only at different times during the nights and mornings. Additionally, students worried about pushing back extracurriculars and the difficulties it would create. Everyone wants more sleep, but pushing back school times will not achieve that goal.