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100 Philly schools closing early Tuesday, Wednesday because of heat

Extreme heat will cause 100 schools that lack air conditioning to close three hours early Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest of the district's schools will remain open as usual.

Kristen A.Graham - Philly Inquirer

One hundred Philadelphia School District schools will close early Tuesday and Wednesday because of predicted high temperatures, officials announced Monday night.

The schools, all of which lack adequate air-conditioning units to cool all teachers and staff, will close three hours early. After-school and sports activities at those schools will also be canceled.

The rest of the district’s schools will stay open on a normal schedule, as will district offices.

“We realize that early dismissals, especially those made the day before, can present challenges for many families. Please know that these decisions, which we do not make lightly, are always made with the safety of our students and staff as our top priority,” officials wrote in an email sent to families and school communities.

Superintendent Tony B. Watlington said Monday that more than half of school buildings don’t have rooms for all students and teachers to be “adequately cooled.”

District officials announced in June that going forward, if heat forced closures or early dismissals, only those schools that lack full air-conditioning will close, rather than the whole district.

The district has 216 schools, but about 300 buildings. Watlington said about 500 new room air-conditioners were installed in schools this summer. The district has about 5,000 classrooms in total.

“We have a lot more planning to do regarding our air-conditioning,” he said. Many schools do not have adequate electrical service to support whole-building cooling.

Monday was the first day of school for 114,000 Philadelphia School District students.

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