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Schools in region to close early due to heat

A stifling heat forecast for the Philadelphia area prompted some school districts to announce early closings for Wednesday and Thursday.

A stifling heat forecast for the Philadelphia area prompted some school districts to announce early closings for Wednesday and Thursday.

Philadelphia public schools will dismiss students at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the district said. Early-childhood programs also will close at 1:30. All after-school programs were canceled.

"We have to consider the safety of the students," said district spokeswoman Shana Kemp. "Only a small percent of our schools are air-conditioned throughout."

Archdiocesan elementary and high schools in Philadelphia also will close at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, spokeswoman Donna Farrell said.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive-heat warning for Wednesday and Thursday, with temperatures expected to approach 100. "Over the weekend, it cools down a little bit, into the low 80s," said Bob Wanton, a meteorologist with the weather service in Mount Holly.

The Philadelphia Corp. for Aging will operate its Heatline (215-765-9040) from noon to midnight Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, providing tips on dealing with the heat and detecting signs of heat stress.

"We strongly urge the public to visit older friends, relatives, and neighbors to ensure that air conditioners or fans are working and homes are adequately ventilated," city Health Commissioner Donald F. Schwarz said.

School districts across the region also announced early closings or other measures to provide relief for students.

The West Chester Area School District in Chester County scheduled early dismissals for Wednesday and Thursday in eight of the district's 10 elementary schools.

"We've actually had some pushback from people saying, 'Well, when I went to school, we didn't have air-conditioning,' " said Rob Partridge, a district spokesman. But indoor air quality "is a health issue, and with the predictions as they are, we feel strongly it's better to be safe and let the children go home."

Classes at six elementary schools in Bucks County's Council Rock School District will end Thursday at 12:15 p.m.

In Delaware County's Springfield School District, early closings were not scheduled, but precautions were being taken. Extra fans and bottled water will be brought into schools, officials said.

In Haddon Township, Camden County, "district schools will follow an early release schedule on Wednesday, June 8, and Thursday, June 9," Superintendent Mark Raivetz wrote in an e-mail to parents Tuesday.

Burlington County's Lenape Regional High School District will end its school day before noon Wednesday through Friday.

In Gloucester County, Pitman's schools will let out in early afternoon.

Camden schools will let out at 1 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and all after-school and interscholastic activities have been canceled, said Deputy Superintendent Reuben Mills.

In Rancocas Valley in Burlington County, early dismissal is planned for Thursday.

In Lindenwold, Camden County, pupils will be placed in air-conditioned parts of the district's buildings and will get frequent water breaks, said Superintendent Geraldine Carroll.

In Burlington Township, only the high school will be on early dismissal - 11:16 a.m. - Wednesday through Friday.

Mount Laurel schools are air-conditioned, but physical-education classes and recess will be held indoors until the heat breaks, district spokeswoman Marie Reynolds said.