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Phila. Public Schools Expected To Take Extra Day Off Due To Papal Visit

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia public schools are likely to add an extra day off next month because of the Pope's visit.

School Superintendent William Hite will ask the School Reform Commission to approve closing schools the on Thursday, September 24th, two days before the Pope's arrival.

The schools are already closed on that Wednesday for Yom Kippur and that Friday because of the Papal visit.

Spokesman Fernando Gallard says closing Thursday will help city officials.

"They will be doing lots of prepping that week, actually." says Gallard. "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."

Gallard says there's no decision on whether to close on Monday September 28th, after the Pope has left town:

"It may be fine on Monday. It may require us to close." says Gallard. "But we don't have sufficient information right now. We're going to leave that Monday as a full school day right now, but we know there is a possibility it could change."

In fact, the District may wait until that Sunday to decide whether to have school Monday -- as they would for a possible snow day:

"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."

Mayor Nutter has said that the Monday after the Pope's appearance should be considered a recovery day and he is uncertain if the traffic restrictions will have been lifted by that point.

Gallard says the SRC will vote on Hite's recommendation to close schools on the 24th at its next meeting, on August 20th.

The Community College of Philadelphia has already decided to close on Friday, Sept. 25th and Saturday, Sept. 26th. A spokesperson says CCP has not yet made a decision regarding classes on Monday the 28th.

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