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Back to school, and back in masks | Morning Newsletter

And, Mayor Jim Kenney calls Philly ‘Ellis Island for Afghans.’

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Good morning, and welcome to The Inquirer Morning Newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 1. Today, we take a look at the first day of school for 120,000 Philadelphia students, the rising number of newcomers evacuating to Philadelphia from Afghanistan, and the Eagles’ 53-man roster for the 2021 season.

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— Tommy Rowan (@tommyrowan,

Tuesday was the first day of classes for 120,000 Philadelphia School District students.

With both high hopes and nerves, students and educators in 200-plus schools waded into the unknown: the third COVID-19-touched school year, but the first term starting with mandated masks and a looming vaccine mandate for all staff.

And the big day was set against a backdrop of expiring teachers’ and principals’ contracts, bus driver shortages that changed school start times across the city, and facilities concerns across the district.

And most Philadelphia students have been out of buildings for 18 months.

Kristen A. Graham has the full story.

  1. Check out photos from students’ first day back at Samuel Powel School and Science Leadership Academy Middle School.

The number of Afghanistan evacuees who have so far entered Philadelphia is at 2,386.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney said the city would welcome newcomers for “as long as it takes.”

The greeting and processing operation at Philadelphia International Airport is scheduled to continue at least through Sept. 17.

”I view us as Ellis Island for the Afghans,” Kenney said

Reporter Jeff Gammage has the full story.

  1. Accepting Afghan refugees is the latest issue dividing Pennsylvania Republicans, and how the debate unfolds will help show whether the GOP continues to follow the direction of former President Donald Trump, or take another course.

Reopening resources

• Here is a full list of restaurants, large performance venues, universities, and gyms in the Philly region where you need to show proof of vaccination.

• Should you laminate your vaccination card? What if you lose it? Here are the dos and don’ts.

• Here’s what you need to know about medical exemptions.

• It could be time to upgrade your face gear. Which masks work best?

What you need to know today

  1. The 2021 Eagles feature a different starting quarterback, new faces, and familiar ones from the last time the franchise won a Super Bowl. Here’s a look at this season’s 53-man roster. Most notably, Travis Fulgham is out, and Jalen Hurts was finally, officially, named the starting quarterback.

  2. Ida’s leftovers are heading our way, bringing with it up to 6 inches of rain and a tornado threat. Meanwhile, all of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware is under a flash-flood watch until Thursday morning. And, local and national groups are helping people affected by the hurricane. Here’s how to help.

  3. Thirty-one horses died at Parx during the first six months of the year, according to data released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. That figure, if matched in the last half of 2021, would put Parx on pace to surpass the 59 horse fatalities that occurred at its facilities in 2019.

  4. With claims of millions of dollars unaccounted for at the Milton Hershey School, a judge considered Tuesday whether a board member’s lawsuit for access to financial records should go forward.

  5. Like the University of Pennsylvania did last week, Princeton University on Tuesday sharply criticized two professors for how they treated human remains taken from the smoldering MOVE house after Philadelphia police bombed it 36 years ago.

  6. Joseph Bologna, a former Philly cop, will face assault charges after all. The fired commander was captured on video striking a Temple student with a baton during last year’s George Floyd protests. And on Tuesday, a judge reinstated some of the charges against him.

  7. On Friday, Fanta Bility, 8, was killed in a shooting at a football game in Sharon Hill in Delaware County. On Tuesday, the girl’s family held her funeral, and asked for justice.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Exceptional and lovely, Just like #Philly.

Tag your Instagram posts with #OurPhilly, and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature here and give you a shout-out.

That's interesting

👎 Ben Simmons reportedly told team brass that he no longer wants to be a Sixer, and does not intend to report to training camp.

😋In Philly, scrapple is a breakfast staple, and a point of pride, regardless of the haters. But what if it can be so much more?

☀️Heat Response PHL is a two-year initiative that brings local artists and neighborhood residents together to tackle extreme urban heat through art and education.

⚾Bryce Harper said he would “turn it on.” And he wasn’t kidding: A stellar August has put him in the National League MVP picture, and helped keep the Phillies in playoff contention.


“Despite the heroic efforts of U.S. military personnel — including the 13 who died in Thursday’s suicide bombing alongside at least 170 of the Afghans they had hoped to protect — there are thousands of Afghans who are still hoping to make their way to safety, and the United States has an obligation to many of them,” writes The Inquirer Editorial Board.

  1. Pediatrician Olubunmi Ojikutu and her husband both received the COVID-19 vaccine, and took their daughter, 14, and son, 12, as soon as they were eligible. They, too, had doubts about vaccinating their children. “That’s why we turned to experts as opposed to uninformed sources and social media,” she writes.

  2. Katie Burrows-Stone, who teaches English to students at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber, writes that the School District of Philadelphia should’ve known that portable toilets weren’t sufficient and that the building’s conditions were unsafe long before the first day of school. And it shouldn’t have taken a protest to get some answers from school officials.

What we're reading

  1. PhillyMag looks at how Boyz II Men became, and remained, cultural icons as so many of their peers faded into obscurity.

  2. A small but significant proportion of mothers and fathers, per the Atlantic, wish they’d never had children.

  3. New Orleans may be better protected today than it was before Hurricane Katrina, but with every day that passes the protection is waning. The New Yorker asks: How much longer can the levees hold?

Photo of the Day