For several years, the Ridgewood Board of Education has been pushing for a later start time. However, it wasn’t until the pandemic, which saw a start time of 8:30, that Ridgewood actually witnessed the benefits of delaying school. In an effort to prioritize students’ health, both physical and mental, the Board of Education is seriously considering concrete options for a new schedule next year.
The board has currently proposed four alternatives to the current schedule, which starts at 7:45 and ends at 2:50, rotating six periods with 50/80/50 minutes per period.
- Start at 8:15, ends at 3:20, with the same rotation.
- Start at 8:30, ends at 3:35, with the same rotation.
- Start at 8:15, ends at 3:05, with fewer classes and longer periods.
- Start at 8:30, ends at 3:20, with fewer classes and longer periods.
After interviewing several students, it became clear that many people wanted change. One junior anonymously reported she preferred the third option, though she considered the third and fourth to also be reasonable. Regarding the last two options, she commented, “It reminds me of the COVID days. I didn’t mind having four classes per day.” When asked whether she would find 90-minute classes acceptable, she responded that “if it’s state law, [she’ll] deal with it.”
However, another junior, Kate Minn, disagreed. “I don’t think I could handle 90 minute periods,” she stated. She told me that even “80 minutes are too long.” For this reason, she preferred option 2. Although she also liked option 3, she believed 3:35 was too late of an end time. Sarah Jeong, a junior, felt similarly, saying she might be “emotionally destroyed” if school ended that late, but still wanted a later start time: “I want more sleep.”
It seems that the same ideas were shared across grades as well. An anonymous sophomore agreed with the juniors. She wanted the later start time, but did not want to end too late because of extracurriculars. Arguing against the last two options, she stated that “90 minutes are too long for us to be able to concentrate for.”
Ms. Polk, who is a teacher at RHS, gave a more detailed explanation with the same stance. She noted that a 90 minute period would “not be good for our attention spans” and “not optimal for learning.” She also expressed that did not want students to be sitting in a classroom for such a long time because she was concerned about the kinesthetic learners who need to move around in order to properly learn. At the same time, she did not want school to end too late because of sports and bussing schedules, remarking, “I don’t think we’re ever going to strike the compromise with sports.”
Regardless of whether there is change or not, one thing has been made clear: Ridgewood should implement a later start time for next year. Between students chugging cups of coffee in the mornings, dozing off in class, developing frequent migraines or having trouble focusing, it seems waking up so early does more harm than good. Hopefully, the school and its students will be able to strike that compromise and see a more awake, attentive, and healthy student body in the future.
Graphic: Kate Minn