Standing alone in Bergen County, high school full-day schedule needs revision


The Board of Education and Superintendent’s plan to have full days of remote instruction at the high school during a global pandemic poses a variety of health, social, and instructional concerns for students and teachers. This schedule should be changed immediately to one more understanding of the challenges of this unique situation.

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco ordered all county public schools to close and move to online learning. Beginning on Monday, March 16, all schools will be closed for a minimum of two weeks. 

Glen Rock High School is to conduct a normal, full school day, virtually. Students must log in at 7:50 a.m., and hand in their work by the time the period’s over (about an hour). Then the student must log into each subsequent class and work until 2:54 p.m. Students get a lunch break. The middle and elementary schools are following a half-day schedule. 

In contrast, almost every other district in Bergen County is following a reduced schedule that still meets New Jersey’s Department of Education guidance for distance learning under 6A:16-10.1

Glen Rock should not make it compulsory for high school students to rely on a computer screen for almost eight hours straight–particularly not in the middle of an isolating and trying time. 

Furthermore, not only could this hinder the performance of students, but it also could create a number of problems for teachers. 

We, The Glen Echo staff, feel strongly that a full day schedule for high school students is plainly a bad decision for the reasons that follow:

1. The possible harmful effects of prolonged screen time on vision: According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, young people are subject to blurry vision, headaches, dry eye, and eye strain due to the global increase in “near-work” activities, which require kids to view books/electronics up close for extended periods. In a Taiwanese study designed to observe the associations between “near visual activities and incident myopia,” near-sightedness resulted in a significant number of participants. From this, high school students exposed to eight hours of constant screen time per day may be subject to worsening vision.

 2. Effect of Extended Screen Time on Sleep: A 2015 study of 10,000 16- to 19-year-olds in Norway reported that those who clocked in four or more hours of screen time a day (outside of schoolwork and homework) had about a 50 percent higher likelihood of lying awake for an hour or more before finally falling asleep. And according to a recent study, lack of sleep in teens is linked to more risky behaviors like drinking and driving.” A lack of sleep could severely hinder students’ academic performance. 

3. Learning Disorders/Attention Span: According to a 2018 study published by Jama, frequent digital activity resulted in “a significantly higher odds of having symptoms of ADHD across follow-ups” in teenagers. Consequently, students subjected to full-days of distance learning could increase their risks of eventually developing attention-deficit disorders, or exacerbating attention issues they may already have.

4. Obesity: Obesity can also be linked to increased screen time. According to the CDC, on average, students aged 15-18 spend 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen, yet they recommend that kids should have 1 hour of physical activity per day, and encourage parents to limit kids’ screen time to 1-2 hours per day. A shortened schedule, however, would allow students time to exercise and fulfill the average amount of physical activity necessary, whereas the current full-day schedule would put limits on that opportunity.

5. Mental health: A study published by Jama shows that frequent screen use is linked to depression in teens. For every hour spent on the computer, teens showed a 0.69-unit increase in depressive symptoms. Another study established that 14 to 17-year-olds spending more than seven hours per day with screens are more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Moderate users in that age group were also linked to a greater risk of depression or anxiety. A reduced school day could curb the potential impact that depression and anxiety could have on students, especially during this emotionally, mentally and physically difficult time.

6. Teachers have to rework lesson plans and assessments: Teachers plan lessons around student interaction and explain topics step by step. As these plans are centered around speaking with students in person, there may be a disconnect in online instruction. Units will need to be reworked to suit the new online format. A half day schedule would give teachers more time to figure out a new way to teach the curriculum.

7. High school students have to watch their younger siblings: Many parents continue to work, so some high school students will be expected to watch their younger siblings. A half day schedule will ensure that they can properly watch and help their siblings, who themselves already have a shortened schedule.

8. Teachers have to attend to their children: With breaking developments of new coronavirus cases, many schools have closed their doors. Daycares, elementary schools, and middle and high schools are no longer open. Kids have to stay at home with their parents, who may be teachers. A seven hour online day is not ideal for teachers who have to attend to children, especially if the children are young. A shortened schedule would allow teachers to instruct their students and tend to their kids, instead of one or the other.

Because of these reasons, the Glen Rock Board of Education and Superintendent should revise its planned schedule for high school students.

We looked to other county districts to learn what they were doing for the education of their high school students. After searching all high schools across Bergen County for publicly available documents, we created a table (below) of schools’ distance learning plans.

Glen Rock High School should follow the example of these numerous districts and institute a more caring, reasonable policy.


NJ Public High School Distance Learning Plans (COVID-19)

High School Shortened Schedule? Plan Details
Glen Rock High School No Students follow full day schedule; must check in for attendance prior to every class in small block of time; teachers must be accessible to students at all times throughout the full school day. 
Carlstadt-East Rutherford Henry P. Becton Regional High School Yes Half session school days; teachers offer 2 hours of live help weekly.
Bogota High School Yes Students work on single session schedule; teachers will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Bergen County Academies Yes School day is from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with 30 minute periods. 
Bogota High School Yes Single session schedule; teachers available 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m
Cliffside Park High School Yes Students follow shortened schedule from 8:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Dumont High School Yes Students follow shortened schedule from 7:25 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
Elmwood Park Memorial High School Yes Students must check in by 10:30 a.m. daily, then complete posted work independently. 
Emerson Jr./Sr. High School Yes Teachers post all work by 8:00 a.m.; students have until 6:00 p.m. to complete.
Fair Lawn High School Yes Students follow a half day schedule.
Garfield High School All assignments posted on school website. 
Hackensack High School Yes Students are given a singular home learning packet or digital assignment that has to be completed by the end of the closure.
Hasbrouck Heights High School Yes Students work for three hours a day. 
Indian Hills High School Yes  Students work from 9:00 a.m. to 2:24 p.m. with a 30 minute lunch break
Lodi High School Yes Students are assigned work that must be completed by 9:00 p.m.
Lyndhurst High School Yes Must log in before 9:30 to check Google Classroom
Mahwah High School Yes Students follow shortened scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Midland Park High School Yes Students have a choice between schedules: (Work from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 12:20 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.).
New Milford High School Yes Students follow delayed opening schedule.
North Arlington High School Yes Students work from 7:50 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Northern Highlands Regional High School Yes Students follow shortened schedule from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest Yes Students are assigned work to be completed by Friday.
Paramus High School Yes Students follow a full-day schedule.
Park Ridge High School Yes Students follow early dismissal schedule; 7:50 a.m. to 12:13 p.m. 
Pascack Hills High School Yes Students follow single session half day.
Pascack Valley High School Yes Students follow single session half day.
Ramapo High School Yes Students follow shortened schedule from 9:30 a.m. to 2:24 p.m.
Ramsey High School  Yes  Students need to complete work before the end of day; no assigned periods
Ridgewood High School Yes Students start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m.
River Dell Regional High School Yes Students work from 9:50 a.m. to 2:37 p.m.
Rutherford High School Yes  Students follow shortened schedule from 8:50 a.m. to 1:25 p.m.
Saddle Brook High School   Students work at their own pace; work was distributed that students have to submit online.
Teaneck High School Yes 10 hour home instruction per week. Students must complete 2 hours of work per day.
Tenafly High School Yes Students follow shortened schedule from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Waldwick High School Yes Students follow shortened  school day from 8 a.m. to 12:25 p.m.
Wallington High School Yes Students will follow a single session half day everyday.
Westwood Regional High School Yes To mimic a regular school day, approximately four hours of work will be posted on Google Classroom for the students to complete.
Wood-Ridge High School Yes Students will follow a single session half day everyday.


Due to the developing nature of the situation, we were not able to find clear information for the following high schools: 

  • Bergen County Technical High School, Paramus & Teterboro Campuses
  • Bergenfield High School
  • Cresskill High School
  • Dwight Morrow High School & Academies at Englewood
  • Leonia High School: We’re unsure whether Leonia is running a full day or how they’re operating. Its website provided information that students would follow a “regular schedule.” This may be a full day, but regardless does not change our position. 
  • Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan
  • Palisades Park High School
  • Ridgefield Memorial High School
  • Ridgefield Park High School

This story was updated at 1:27 p.m. to add new information about Paramus High School and Saddle Brook High School.