New warnings about NJ school start times
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is again sounding the alarm on the issue of teen sleep deprivation in the Garden State.
The CDC study looked at the school start times around the country versus their recommendations, along with the potential impact from the lack of rest.
Federal health officials call for middle and high schools to begin at 8:30 a.m. or later.
New Jersey's average opening bell is 8 a.m. In fact, about 85 percent of Garden State middle and high schools start before 8:30 a.m.
While that falls in line with the national average of 8:03 a.m., the CDC said it presents a troubling and dangerous pattern of insufficient sleep.
The report said that too-early start times can often disrupt teen health, safety, and academic success.
Health officials also believe the unhealthy sleep patterns can eventually lead to obesity, depression, and alcohol and drug use.
This issue has been debated around New Jersey over the last year as calls increase to push back the start times.
A bill currently sits on Gov. Chris Christie's desk that would commission a Department of Education study on the benefits and drawbacks of a later school day.
State school officials said that the decision on start times is made at the local level, not by state or federal lawmakers.
Opponents believe a later start time would cause logistical chaos for bus schedules, traffic, and after-school sports and activities.
Even the CDC concedes that altering a school's schedule presents certain challenges.
They are urging parents to emphasize an earlier bed time, along with removing cell phones and other technological distractions from teen bedrooms.
Our report this week also outlined the importance of getting children back on a normal sleep schedule as the start of the school year approaches.
The start time debate is one that is expected to rage on through the upcoming school year.