Schools in several Pa. and N.J. school districts dismiss early due to heat

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Students around the region went home early because of the heat. (WPVI)

Excessive heat and humidity led to early dismissal Friday for students in a number of area districts, including Philadelphia's public and Archdiocesan schools, and in the city's Catholic elementary schools.

At Benjamin Franklin high school in Spring Garden, students were planning for shortened classes and canceled practices.

"All our classes going to be 45 minutes now," said student Josh Walden before the early dismissal. "Lunch is still the same. All our classes have a short period time."

"They cancelled everybody going to be out here," said Saleem Harris. "They're going to pass out."

Over at Samuel Gompers Elementary School in Wynnefield parents dropped off their children Friday morning for a shortened day.

Parents here said afterschool programs relieve the stress of the early pick-up.

"This school in particular has a good before- and afterschool plan," said Brea Richardson. "So even if school district closes down program takes care of the kids."

"I won't have to pick them up," said Lakeisha Atkins. "Day care will pick them up, take them to day care. Then I pick them up when I get off work."

Philadelphia was not the only school district in our area concerned about the heat.

In New Jersey, the Trenton School District dismissed students early on Wednesday and Thursday due to the rising temperatures.

Trenton schools had an early dismissal Friday as well.

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Twenty schools in the Camden, N.J. school district sent 7500 students home early on Friday due to the heat.

And in Camden, 20 schools sent 7500 students home early on Friday.

The Camden School District's deputy superintendent, Katrina McCombs, told Action News only a handful of schools have central air that can handle this kind of heat. Most of that district's schools were built before the 1920s.

Also, a large percentage of Camden students have health issues, from asthma to diabetes, which makes them more vulnerable to excessive heat and humidity.

McCombs said making them sit in hot classrooms Friday was simply not worth the risk.

"Making a decision to have an early dismissal is something that we really, really don't take lightly," said Deputy Superintendent Katrina McCombs. "So a lot of thought goes into really making sure that that decision is right, because we want our students to have their instructional time maximized, especially at the beginning of the year when they are getting use to routines. So student safety, though, comes first."
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