As parents in the Northeast batten down their hatches in preparation for the latest snowpocalypse, more than a few are likely scrambling for last-minute daycare options. If you’re cursing your local school district (quietly, of course, so as not to disrupt your kid’s innocent wonder at the fluffy white stuff falling from the sky) here are some cold, hard facts: According to a study by a data-plowing Harvard professor, school closures have no impact on learning — but absences do. Some students are going to miss school regardless of an official snow day thanks to transportation problems or parental discretion. But keeping schools open during bad weather, however heroic it may seem to you at the moment, results in staggered attendance that forces teachers to “expend time getting students on the same page as their classmates.”
Planning ahead helps explain why snow days (unlike other arbitrary absences) are less harmful to student performance. Districts generally add extra days at the end of the school year to compensate for snow-related incidents. If your kid thinks it’s a bummer to go to school when it’s 80 degrees and sunny, just point to the fact that 6 University of California campuses rank in the top 10 best public universities nationwide. But in the meantime, if you’re concerned the only thing they’re learning during a snow day is how to make a killer snowball, at least one professor says their minds won’t turn to slush.