When Pope Francis visits Philadelphia in late September, schools will likely be closing the Thursday before his weekend visit, and now possibly the the following Monday.
The Pope's visit will be on September 26th and 27th. Schools are already set to be closed Wednesday the 23rd for Yom Kippur and Friday the 25th for security preparations.
Fernando Gallard, a spokesperson for the city's school district, has said that the School Reform Commission is now considering an additional day off on Thursday the 24th. No decision has been made about closings on Monday the 28th, as schools do not yet have information about whether road closures will continue into Monday morning.
Gallard said that the additional Thursday closure will help city officials manage the Pope's visit:
They will be doing lots of prepping that week, actually. So the less traffic there is, the less mobility of students and parents going back and forth to schools, it will be easier for them. That will provide the city with even less traffic to deal with as they prepare for the papal visit.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced that all of the city's Catholic schools will be closed between the 23rd and the 25th so that students, families, and teachers can participate in the World Meeting of Families, writes Kevin C. Shelly of the Philly Voice.
According to Patricia Madej of the Philadelphia Business Journal, the area's colleges and universities have instated the following closure policies for the weekend:
- The Community College of Philadelphia will be closing Friday and Saturday, but its administration has not yet made a decision regarding Monday classes.
- The University of Pennsylvania will be closed Friday.
- Rutgers University at Camden will be closing Thursday evening, and reopening Monday afternoon.
- Drexel University is closed from the 25th to the 27th.
- Temple will be closed Friday.
- Villanova University will have an adjusted schedule Friday and Saturday, and encourages instructors who meet on campus those days to reschedule or hold class online instead.
- St. Joseph's University will be cancelling evening classes on Friday, and all classes and events on Saturday and Sunday.
- La Salle University is canceling activities on Saturday, but Friday and Monday will go on as scheduled.
- Thomas Jefferson University will be cancelling all classes and events between Friday and noon on Monday.
- The University of the Arts has no classes on Friday the 25th.
A "traffic box" will be established Friday morning until Monday and will span all of Center City, writes Emily Babay of Philly.com. Eventually it will extend west to 38th St in University City. The Department of Transportation is also closing major highways, and may not reopen them until Monday.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said that residents should treat the event like a snow emergency, and check news websites on Monday morning for up-to-date information about route closures, writes Mike Dunn of CBS Philadelphia. He said:
That decision could be made in advance or it could wait until that particular weekend. It could be almost treated as we treat a weather-related closure.
1.5 million people are expected to attend the Pope's Sunday Mass in Philadelphia.