NJ begins looking into a later start for school day

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    New Jersey’s Department of Education is set to explore some of the benefits and potential negatives of starting the school day later.

    Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill to authorize the study this week.

    Students enjoy better health and academic success when they sleep-in a bit, said Maribel Ibrahim, co-founder of the nonprofit Start School Later. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle- and high school students begin school at 8:30 a.m. or later.

    The ultimate decision usually rests with local school boards.

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    “Lots of local school districts will not stick out their necks and make a change like this, and that’s why when you have state legislation, that bolsters the school districts’ ability to make good healthy decisions for their students,” Ibrahim said.

    Her group has heard from interested parents in Cherry Hill and Hackensack.

    Because of changes during puberty, teenage bodies often don’t power down until 11 at night. If school starts at 7 a.m., students can’t get the nine hours of rest they need.

    And insufficient sleep hurts adolescent health, Ibrahim said.

    “Their executive function is already compromised because they are teens, they are going through puberty, now it’s even worse because they are going through sleep deprivation,” she said.

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