New Jersey

NJ May Require High Schools to Start at 8:30 a.m. or Later

A bill in the state legislature would follow years of science on the sleep schedules of teenagers and make high schools open later

NBC Universal, Inc.

After years of science showing that teenagers need more sleep, the state of New Jersey is moving toward making that mandatory by legislating later high school start times.

A bill introduced last week by the powerful speaker of the state Assembly, Craig Coughlin, would require public high schools to start the school day no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Start times are currently a patchwork around New Jersey. South Brunswick High School, one of the state's largest by total student body, starts classes at 7:30 a.m.; another of the largest schools, Union City HS, starts at 7:40 a.m.

Other districts have already gone to 8 a.m. or later. Millburn officials told that students were very happy with the change, and that the district was open to the legislature pushing schools even later.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been outspoken on this issue for years. In 2014, the group published a policy statement saying there were clear mental and physical effects from starting schools earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The state teachers union told it was open to discussing the idea.

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