New Jersey Law Waiting to be Passed: Should High School Start at a Later Time?


Molly O'Rourke, Writer

Starting in September of 2024, New Jersey teenagers may be able to set their morning alarms just a bit later. NJ lawmakers are currently waiting for the Senate and Gov. Murphy to pass a bill that will not allow the state’s public high schools to start any earlier than 8:30 a.m.


The two lawmakers, Sen. Vin Gopal and Assembly Speaker Craigh Coughlin have been referring to a research study that found that high school students who go to their first class before 8:30 a.m. are more likely to struggle with anxiety and or depression. As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, teens all around the world have been experiencing mental health issues, and many feel that a later start to their school day could benefit their productivity as students. After getting more sleep, they would be more prepared for the day and focused in class.


Former NJ Governor Richard Codey said in a statement to CBS News, “Your first two classes, you kind of bomb because you’re really not awake.” 


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average start time for New Jersey public schools is 7:51 a.m., while forty percent of high schools in the entire nation start between 8:00 a.m. and 8:29 a.m.


Starting the school day a bit later would not only give teens more time to sleep and get rest, but it would also give them more time in the morning to really wake up and prepare for the day. Many high school students tend to skip breakfast due to timing purposes. Skipping out on the most important meal of the day has been found to affect moods and productivity. With more time in the morning before heading to school, teens would have the time to enjoy a hearty and nutritious meal prior to working their minds in class.


Not everyone is a fan of this potential change. Many have introduced the argument that since the school day would be starting later, it would be ending later as well. It would put a delay on the end time for after-school and extracurricular activities that already do end late in the day. It could also be an issue for working parents who have a set schedule for picking up their children from school, sport practices, etc.


This law is waiting to be signed by Gov. Murphy before the possibility of going into effect for the 2024-25 school year. He is not opposed to it, and reports that in a statement to Politico New Jersey, the governor said, “There’s a fair amount of research that suggests it’s a better way to go to start later. I’m absolutely open-minded to that.” If the bill does get passed, it will be quite interesting to see its effect and impact on teens and their parents.