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Ridgewood High School now has later start time to allow students to sleep more

Many schools around New Jersey are jumping on board with making start times later after studies have shown it results in better grades and students who are mentally and physically healthier.

Chris Keating

Sep 5, 2023, 9:39 PM

Updated 315 days ago

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The Ridgewood School District has changed the start time for the district’s high school. Students need to show up for class at 8:20 a.m., 35 minutes later than last year.
Many schools around New Jersey are jumping on board with making start times later after studies have shown it results in better grades and students who are mentally and physically healthier.
The biggest benefit of the change in start time is that it’ll provide Ridgewood teens with more time to sleep and eat breakfast.
The change was voted on last February, based in part on their own data and studies from the American Pediatric Association. The APA suggests teens get nine hours of sleep at night. A lack of sleep puts them at risk for obesity, depression, drowsy driving, poor school attendance and lower grades.
“We can’t control the time that kids go to bed. We can encourage good sleep habits. But at the end of the day, that’s the parent's role,” says Superintendent Mark Schwarz.
Schwarz says the district spoke with students about the potential change saying, “One of the most impactful things that they shared with us is that they’d use it to eat breakfast in the morning. I think as adults we can relate to that.”
Ridgewood High School junior Vincent Guerrero said that last year he was waking up at 5:30 a.m. to be able to catch the bus. He says the later start time will be a great relief.
“The later start time is giving me a ton more sleep and it’s really helpful because I’m up late at night,” he says. “Today I think I woke up at 7 a.m. Usually last year I’d have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the bus. Especially this year going into my junior year, it’s really important to get my studies straight with SAT coming up, AP exams, that kind of stuff."
Other districts, including Tenafly, Chatham, Princeton and Milburn also have changed start times in previous years.
Schwarz says the district will be collecting data to see if this is working. They’ll interview students and look at absenteeism.


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