It’s back-to-school season across the country, and for Pennsylvania’s largest school district, the day that students are slated to return to the classroom is rapidly approaching.

Philadelphia’s Public Schools are scheduled to open on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. However, I’m wondering if the opening day for (at least a portion of) Philly’s 239 schools and nearly 200,000 students may be affected by a bit of a surprising reason.

Could Weather Affect Philly Schools’ Opening Day for 2023-24?

If you haven’t looked at the forecast for next week, it’s a scorcher. And I gotta say… I think there’s a chance it’ll affect the school year.

It looks like temperatures all week next week will be well into the 90s. In fact, some forecasts (as of now) are calling for a dangerous heat wave.

Monday’s temperatures are expected to be around 94 degrees, but they’ll rise to 96 degrees on Tuesday. And Wednesday could be the peak of the heat with temperatures around 98 degrees, some area forecasts say.

iPhone forecast for Philadelphia (as of August 30)
iPhone forecast for Philadelphia (as of August 30)

Typically when temperatures get that hot the school district is forced to make changes to the calendar. In some cases, they’ll dismiss the hottest schools early. In other cases, they’ve opted for a remote learning day.

In fact, before the last school year wrapped, back in June, the Philadelphia School District closed 91 schools early because of the heat.

At the time, the district dismissed 91 of its 216 buildings two hours early because they were not fully air-conditioned (reporting via

Schools that are fully air-conditioned are not typically affected by such decisions.


Philadelphia Swelters Amid East Coast Heatwave
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The district posted its heat protocols on its website, and it says that when temperatures are over 90 degrees, they begin monitoring the safety of conditions inside the classrooms that lack air conditioning.

If temperatures in instructional spaces are expected to hit 90℉ or higher, we then determine if a temporary shift to virtual learning or other action is necessary. Our goal going forward is to make that decision only for the schools that do not have sufficient air conditioning systems to keep temperatures below 90℉ (see list below), and to make the decision as early as possible, preferably the day before, to minimize last-minute disruption for our students, families and staff.

(Philadelphia School District)

So we’ll have to wait and see what happens, Philly. A similar dismissal procedure took place at the start of the last school year in September 2022 as well, by the way.

Philadelphia School District to Install Air Conditioning in All Schools By 2027

The Philadelphia School District is working towards installing air-conditioning in all of their buildings, according to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this summer.

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Unfortunately, they won’t be finalized until 2027. So, as a result, it’s likely that the procedure of closing some buildings early in extreme heat will continue, they say.

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