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Philly schools are opening earlier this year, and District officials want you to know it

Starting before Labor Day is unusual. Given all the September holidays, officials wanted to kick off with a five-day week.

Students at South Philadelphia High School on the first day in 2017. (Photo by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Monday, Aug. 27.

You’re going to hear that date a lot from Philadelphia officials over the next week and a half.

That’s because it’s the first day of the school year for the District’s 130,000 students. It’s an earlier start date than usual, and the District is using an online campaign called #RingTheBell to alert parents to this shift in the schedule. School officials have even recruited the Philadelphia Phillies — owners of the city’s second most famous bell — to help promote the campaign.

Typically, Philadelphia schools have opened after Labor Day. District officials decided to start — and end — a week earlier for a few logistical reasons, said Superintendent William Hite.

First, starting the week before Labor Day ensures that the first week of school will run five days.

“What we wanted to do is at least start the year with a full week of school so that students are getting acclimated and we don’t have an interrupted week,” said Hite.

One year, Hite said, fall holidays truncated all of the school year’s first three weeks. Officials believe it’s important to establish a groove early and think a five-day kickoff week will help.

“Generally, if the holiday falls on a Thursday, no one comes on Friday,” Hite said. “If the holiday falls on Tuesday, no one comes on Monday.”

Read the rest of this story at WHYY News

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