More Philly schools will dismiss students early this week amid sweltering temps

Early dismissals at 86 Philly schools — up from 74 earlier this week — will continue through Friday.

Listen 1:03
Parents walking their children to school

Proud parents watch at their kids return to school at Guion S. Bluford Elementary on the first day of school in Philadelphia, September 5, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

More Philadelphia students will see their first week back to school cut short amid the early September heat wave.

A total of 86 school programs, up from 74 earlier this week, will close their doors three hours early Thursday and Friday.

The district says the schools either lack air conditioning or do not provide adequate cooling systems.

“It feels like it’s too hot and I feel like I’m sweating,” said 9-year-old Azariah Gibbs, who attends Spring Garden School. “It feels really hot and they open the windows, and I say can they turn it down, because it’s going to be too hot and we are hot and sweating.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Gibbs is one of the thousands of students released early Wednesday.

The city remains under a heat advisory, with the heat index predicted to get as high as 103. Daily high temperatures are expected to stay in the mid-90s through Friday, with overnight lows not dipping below 70 degrees.

“Student safety is our number one priority,” said Oz Hill, chief operating officer for the School District of Philadelphia, in a press release. “The district is taking several measures to help maintain healthy and comfortable classroom conditions.”

The district announced the schedule change for the first two days of school on Friday. Donna Collazo, a parent at South Philadelphia High School, told WHYY News Tuesday that she wasn’t given enough time to plan.

“Do you think everyone has the ability to just yo-yo the way you guys want us to?,” she said. “It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating.”

The district has promised to make schedule decisions “as early as possible,” and at least 24 hours in advance.

But on Wednesday, parents were notified that students would be released early for the remainder of the week.

Officials emphasize that the district has invested millions of dollars into HVAC upgrades at nearly two dozen schools. They said their goal is to eventually update every school’s cooling system so that temperatures will no longer disrupt in-person learning.

The full list of school programs that will dismiss early Thursday and Friday can be found below.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal