Central Ohio students have a complicated relationship with snow days, particularly in terms of their mental health and safety.
“Snow days are basically the only reason I make it through the winter. I love snow days in all honesty,” Erin Dawson, a senior at Bishop Watterson High School, said. Various students, ages 13-17 noted 2-4 extra hours of sleep, which increases focus, memory, and other necessary mental tools to excel in school.
“After a snow day, if I worked on a paper, I get a better grade,” Dawson said. GLHS freshman Lilly Phillips agreed, and said she works “a lot harder when I’m not tired or sleep deprived. It makes my life easier.” Sleep, focus, and information retention are not the only way students feel they benefit from snow days. Many students reported an improvement in mental health.
“Students appear happier after a snow day,” Gahanna Lincoln biology teacher Benton Bommer said.
Dawson agreed, and said snow days break a vicious cycle of students struggling with their grades because of sleep loss. To keep up with the rigors of schoolwork, students have to stay up late, but then continue to fall behind because of their lack of sleep.
While in-school work time is lost during a snow day, which often occurs in the middle of a week, many students and parents feel it is a worthwhile break, especially in terms of safety. Dr. Amy Meier said there is an “increase in orthopedic injuries” during winter.
Bommer too brought up safety as a major concern of school districts, and said that “most people are unaware as to the number of walkers each district or building has.” There is a clear connection between injuries and the number of who walk up to a mile to school. This danger only increases with schools' early start times, as winter mornings in Ohio are often are dark and colder. As a result, ice will not have melted and black ice will be more difficult to see, increasing danger for students walking between buildings, outside, and to school.
However, students feel that while snow days provide safety and mental breaks, makeup work can be overwhelming.
“We have to double up the next day,” said eighth grade St. Francis De Sales student Lauren Meier. Students also struggle to retain information from lessons when there is a sudden day off, which may make studies more difficult and stressful later on, according to Bommer.
While many students love snow days, others are weary of the academic price they have to pay. According to Dawson, snow days hurt preparation for AP tests that classes might not have the time to make up, which worsens stress later in the year. However, many students and parents alike feel that snow days are both necessary for safety and provide a break that causes at the least a temporary mental health benefit.
“I feel like everybody needs a mental health day every once in a while,” said Dr. Meier, “School can be stressful, work can be stressful, life can be stressful, so sometimes having a surprise day off can be helpful towards your mental outlook.”