Philadelphia’s 124,000 public school students returned to school Tuesday for the start of the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Philadelphia School District’s 18,000 teachers and staff returned to work Aug. 26.

Due to a construction delay, The Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy complex at 550 N. Broad St. in North Philadelphia will not open until Thursday.

Smoke disrupts first day at Masterman

The first day got off to a rough start at Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School at 1699 Spring Garden St., in Spring Garden, after the building engineer noticed smoke in the basement and pulled the fire alarms, according to police.

The Fire Department responded and the school’s 900 students evacuated without incident, police said. They returned a short time later after fire officials sounded the all clear. There is no word yet on the source of the smoke.

First day ceremonies

After greeting bus drivers, Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite headed to the Robert Morris Elementary School, 2600 W. Thompson St., in North Philly, where he was joined by Mayor Jim Kenney and other officials for the annual Ring the Bell Ceremony.

Some of the adult bell ringers, perhaps channeling parents around the city, appeared almost gleeful at the return of the children to school.

Hite and Kenney also visited Alexander McClure Elementary School, 600 W Hunting Park Ave., in Hunting Park and Hite lunched with students at the Samuel Fels High School, 5500 Langdon St., in Crescentville.


It was a pretty good day to return to school. It’s sunny and the high temperature of around 85 degrees is not expected until after classes are dismissed for the day. It was 71 degrees when the school bells rang at 7:45 a.m.

Wednesday, however, will be hotter and more humid with a high around 90 degrees and a chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m. There’s a chance of rain Thursday and Friday but the temperatures will be comfortable with highs in the low 70s.

What’s New

What’s old is new again as schools return to a post-Labor Day opening after a steamy pre-Labor Day start last year prompted a reevaluation. Ironically, if the change had occurred this year, it probably would have been considered a success due to last week’s cooler temperatures.

The school district also has hired 700 new teachers and counselors, some in new positions made possible by its $3.4 billion budget. There will be more educators for English-language learners, more social workers, and more nurses.

Catholic Schools

Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools in the city also open this week, but not on Tuesday.

Wednesday will be the first day of school for high school freshman. Students in grades 10 to 12 report on Thursday. All students report Friday.

Elementary schools open Wednesday.