FAIR LAWN & GLEN ROCK, NJ – Now is your chance, students and parents, to lobby your high school administrators to be part of a pilot program to open school at a later start time of 8:30 a.m.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law late last week that supports assessing how pushing back high school start times could be beneficial to student health.

The law establishes a four-year pilot program to study the issues, benefits and options for implementing later start times across New Jersey high schools. To participate, school districts will need to submit an application to the Commissioner of Education. Five schools will then be selected so as to represent the northern, central and southern regions of the state as well as a combination of urban, suburban and rural areas.

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“Teens are operating on too little sleep to the detriment of their physical, social, emotional and ultimately academic well-being,” Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris) said. “With later school start times, students could get a little more sleep giving them just the extra boost they need for success. It’s a strategy that has great potential to work in our largely diverse state and merits our attention.”

The primary goal of the law will be to assess how later school start times function in the context of New Jersey, and to see its effect on reducing tardiness and absenteeism. While research has broadly articulated positive effects of a later start in the morning, this new law will help identify any negative implications of the policy before any pursuit of statewide implementation.

“Our school schedules should reflect the needs of our students,” Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) said. “So often, our children are attending school on far less sleep than what is medically recommended. This pilot program will give us a deeper understanding of how a later start to the school day may impact students – especially in regards to academic performance. This law is supported by advocates and experts alike, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

“The purpose of school and education is to maximize human potential,” Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Burlington) said. “When students are not well rested, they aren’t showing up to school in best mindset to learn. For that reason, it’s imperative we take on task of pinpointing feasible ways to better meet the needs of our teens. If changing high school start times by an hour makes a difference, it’s an avenue we definitely need to explore.”