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December 11, 2018

After August heat wave, Philadelphia schools could return to starting classes after Labor Day

Education Weather
Stock_Carroll - The School District of Philadelphia Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all state schools to close for two weeks to prevent spread of coronavirus. But Philly officials did not want to shut down the School District of Philadelphia.

After the first week of school was interrupted by a record-breaking heat wave this year, the School District of Philadelphia Board of Education will vote this week about whether to resume beginning classes after Labor Day.

This year Philadelphia schools started on Aug. 27 in the midst of a stretch of summer days consistently reaching more than 90 degrees – leaving students and teachers sweating inside school buildings, many schools without air conditioning. As a result, the public schools were force to close at 1 p.m. for most of that first week.

RELATED: Corporate tax breaks cost Philadelphia's schools more than $60 million in 2017

A proposed school district calendar for 2019-2020 has classes beginning on Sept. 2, 2019, the Tuesday after Labor Day, and includes an eight-day winter break and weeklong spring break. The school year would end June 12, 2020. A proposed calendar for 2020-2021, however, begins classes Aug. 31 (a week before Labor Day that year), includes a two-week winter break, and ends classes on June 14, 2021. 

The school year cannot extend beyond June 15 next year because of how teachers are paid, but Pennsylvania requires public schools to have 180 days of instruction, causing the inconsistent start dates.

Both schedules will be voted on by the school board during Thursday's meeting.

Despite the possible change to a post-Labor Day start, the school district said that hot weather this year is not the only reason why the change is under consideration, though the volume of parent feedback was a significant factor.

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