As school was winding down last spring, the Highland Park Board of Health was gearing up for action that its nine members hoped would have a positive impact on Highland Park’s students when they returned to school this September. On April 16, 2015, the board passed two resolutions to “improve the health and well being of students in the Highland Park Middle and High Schools.
One resolution concerned the need for students to get more sleep and recommended a school start time of no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The other resolution tackled the issue of too little exercise among students and suggested a school policy requiring physical activity of at least 225 minutes per week.
Below are the exact resolutions that were adopted:
Whereas early school start times have been shown to negatively affect adolescent student well-being and academic performance.
Whereas the early waking time has been shown to be associated with reduced academic performance, increased rates of obesity, increased health-risk behaviors, and increased rates of depression thus negatively affecting the health and wellbeing of adolescent students in the Highland Park Middle and High Schools.
Resolved that the Highland Park Board of Health recommends that the Highland Park Borough Board of Education adopt a later school start time for Middle and High School students (no earlier than 8:30 a.m.).
Whereas students in the Highland Park Public Schools do not regularly meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of 225 minutes of physical activity each week.
Whereas increased physical activity has been associated with better academic achievements, improved overall health and wellbeing, and a better mental state.
Whereas student athletes typically have at least 225 minutes of physical activity each week during their sport season.
Resolved that the Highland Park Board of Health recommends that the Highland Park Borough Board of Education:
(1) Increase the amount of required physical activity within the high school and middle school to at least 225 minutes per week, and
(2) Accommodate student athletes by recognizing their greater physical activity during their sport seasons by offering a study hall option in lieu of physical education requirements to these students during the specific sport season.
The Board of Health at its meeting tonight, Thursday, Sept. 10, 7 p.m., Highland Park Borough Hall, will be discussing strategies for implementing these suggested policies.
The Highland Park Board of Health, staffed by a group of local volunteers and a student representative, works in close cooperation with the Mayor and Council and the Middlesex County Health Department in order to provide for the health needs of Highland Park residents. In accordance with state-wide minimum standards, the Board implements state laws and regulations relating to public health in the Borough.
The Board is involved in sponsoring various community services, such as the annual Highland Park Free Community Health Fair, a local Fun Run, the free rabies clinic and various educational programs. Members play a major role in disseminating health information and services to our community.
The Board may pass health ordinances, such as those banning cigarette vending machines in the Borough and defining public health nuisances. The Borough contracts with Middlesex County to provide an Inspector for Highland Park who oversees important services, such as food service inspections and investigation of complaints related to health hazards (including lack of heat in rented dwellings). The Board also registers vital statistics.
Meetings are held the second Thursday of the month from September through June at 7pm at Highland Park Borough Hall. Members of the public are welcome. Please contact Board of Health secretary, Karen Valente at 732-777-6013 to confirm meeting time and attendance.