TRENTON — The idea of delaying the start of the school day in high schools has been talked about for years. On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that will finally launch a pilot program that will test it out.

Advocates of delaying high school start times say that teenagers naturally do not get enough sleep and would benefit academically and physically from starting school at a later hour. In some districts, students have to wake up just as the sun is rising to get to school on time.

Delayed start times has already been tried in some districts. Princeton moved the start of their school day this year from 7:50 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.

The law directs the Department of Education to establish a pilot program using five districts from urban, suburban, and rural areas.

The pilot program will see how later start times affect extracurricular activities and transportation.

“Adolescents are not getting enough sleep to live up to their full academic potential, and early school start times are to blame,” state Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, said.

“Numerous studies by the CDC and the American Medical Association support that early school start times conflict with the physical and psychological growth of adolescents. This isn’t just an idea, research backs up this problem. The negative effects of not getting enough sleep will cause mental health issues within students.”

“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, 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.”

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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