PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The first day back to school was a short one for some students in Philadelphia as 74 schools in the district were dismissed early due to the heat.
"There is air conditioning in a lot of the classrooms, which is good. But it is hot enough for them to do early dismissal, definitely," said Jhane Carmody, a behavioral health technician at AMY Northwest Middle School in Roxborough.
Frustrated parents were forced to pick up their children just a few hours after dropping them off on Tuesday morning. They will have to do the same on Wednesday, as schools without air conditioning in Philadelphia dismiss early again because of the high temperatures.
"Of course, I'm going to be here the first day, but I had to call out of work," said Jamillah Hawkins, the parent of a seventh grader at AMY Northwest.
Philadelphia school officials said the district has invested more than $285 million to improve electrical and HVAC systems in city schools. They said the goal is to eventually equip every school with air conditioning.
Parents, like Hawkins, said they are frustrated the district has not already taken steps to ensure each school in the city has air conditioning.
"Y'all knew all summer y'all didn't have air conditioners in the building. You know every September it gets hot. Why not take care of it before it happens?" said Hawkins.
School officials in Philadelphia said they will continue to check the temperatures to determine if early dismissal is necessary on Thursday and Friday.
"Heat makes people tired. It also makes them very uncomfortable to be in the classrooms, sweating and stuff like that," Carmody said. "They can't really focus on their work."
OTHER SCHOOLS DISMISSING EARLY
The Upper Darby School District superintendent said they dismissed students early on Tuesday, and will again on Wednesday and Thursday, because of the heat.
Officials with the William Penn School District in Delaware County said they will operate on a half-day schedule Wednesday through Friday.
The Camden City School District said it will operate on a half-day schedule Wednesday and Thursday. All after-school and evening activities will also be canceled.
The Allentown School District has also planned to dismiss students early this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Keeping residents safe
From students to seniors, officials in Delaware County have taken steps to ensure all residents, especially the older ones, are protected during this hot stretch of weather.
"Making sure individuals stay hydrated and have access to mechanisms that help keep them cool," said Monica Taylor, the chair of the Delaware County Council.
The Schoolhouse Center in Folsom is one of several centers open for Delaware County seniors who need to cool off or grab a fan. The center is handing out fans to any county resident over the age of 60.
According to Taylor, seniors account for 20% of the population in Delaware County.
"One in five of our adults are in that older range," she explained. "We want to make sure that they're aware of where the resources are, and we want to give them refuge from the heat and keep them cool."
AAA said it is also important to think of your car in this weather. They said calls for dead car batteries and flat tires make up 40% of their total call volume during a heat wave.
"If your car battery is not at full strength, there's a chance it could be compromised and die by the time we get through this heat wave," said Jana Tidwell, a spokesperson for AAA.