PUBLIC SCHOOL students in Philadelphia will get a day off before Pope Francis comes to town.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said yesterday that street closures which take effect Sept. 25 will make it too hard to get to class. Heavy traffic is anticipated ahead of the pontiff's two public appearances that weekend. More than 1.5 million pilgrims are expected to converge on the city.

Philadelphia is hosting the World Meeting of Families starting Sept. 22. The international gathering for Roman Catholics focuses on strengthening family bonds.

Francis will attend the closing festival of the conference on Sept. 26. The next day, he'll celebrate an outdoor Mass.

- Associated Press