Students at several Philadelphia-area universities will have some extra time off from classes thanks to next month's papal visit.

The University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University-Camden sent notices to their campus communities this week about the cancellations.

At Penn, classes and normal university operations will be suspended on Friday, Sept. 25, the day before Pope Francis arrives for his two-day visit in the city.

Rutgers-Camden is beginning its cancellations the evening of Thursday, Sept. 24, with normal operations expected to resume at about 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28.

The colleges say the logistics of the papal visit would make holding classes and activities during that time difficult.

Public transportation will be running with adjusted schedules, limited stops and express-style service, while traffic disruptions include a "traffic box" in Center City and West Philadelphia that vehicles won't be able to enter and the closure to vehicles of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the Vine Street Expressway and sections of the Schuylkill Expressway.

"We're primarily a commuter school, so the ability of our students, faculty and staff to get to campus is key," said Rutgers-Camden spokesman Michael Sepanic. The college notified its students and instructors of the change Tuesday.

"We wanted to make the decision early, so faculty could plan to accommodate this in their teaching schedules," he said. Individual faculty members will decide whether to fit in the material during the remaining classes, or hold a makeup class.

Penn's notification to staff about the cancellation, sent Thursday, said the suspension was "due to anticipated logistical and transportation issues" related to the pontiff's visit.

Some essential personnel, such as public safety, dining services and facilities employees, will need to report to work, the notification said.

The colleges are the latest to announce papal-visit-related closures. Drexel University announced last month that all classes would be canceled from Sept. 25 to Sept. 27. The Community College of Philadelphia, located just a few blocks from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- where Pope Francis will attend Saturday's Festival of Families and celebrate Mass on the Sunday -- also has said it would close Sept. 25 and 26.

Some colleges, however, are still considering what to do during the papal visit.

Temple University spokesman Ray Betzner said Thursday that the college hadn't made a decision about operations at its main campus yet.

The school has previously said it planned to cancel Saturday classes at its Center City campus.

Pope Francis' trip to Philadelphia at the end of the World Meeting of Families is expected to draw huge crowds, with 1.5 million people projected to attend his Sunday Mass.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillydotcom on Twitter.