Philadelphia school students will learn virtually Friday due to poor air quality

Philadelphia school students will learn remotely on Friday due to ongoing poor air quality from the Canadian wildfires, school leaders announced. 

The School District of Philadelphia said all teachers and faculty should still report to school building. All school-related outdoor activities have been postponed or canceled. 

The district acknowledged that the decision will impact several elementary school move-up ceremonies and middle and high school graduations that were slated to be outside. The indoor ceremonies will continue as planned, according to the district, and outdoor ceremonies will take place at alternative sites and different times. 

"The health and wellbeing of students and staff is a top priority," Superintendent Tony Watlington said. "I urge everyone to follow the Code Red guidance from the city, state, and national health officials."


Forecasters say that with weather systems expected to hardly budge, the smoky blanket billowing from wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia should persist into the weekend. 

Across the eastern U.S., officials warned residents to stay inside and limit or avoid outdoor activities again Thursday, extending "Code Red" air quality alerts in some places for a third-straight day as forecasts showed winds continuing to push smoke-filled air south.

In Philadelphia, health officials issued a code red Wednesday morning for unhealthy air across the city. That alert extended into Thursday and could stretch into the weekend.

"This alert means that the air is unhealthy to breathe, and some members of the general public may experience health effects," the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said.

Officials are urging residents to take these precautions at this time:

  • Strongly consider canceling outdoor events and gatherings
  • Avoid going outdoors as much as possible
  • Avoid excessive activities outdoors, such as jogging or exercising
  • If you have to go outdoors, wear a high quality mask, like an N-95 or KN-95 mask
  • Avoid areas of high congestion and where air pollution may be high, like main streets or highways, areas with low air circulation
  • Close all windows and doors to minimize air pollution in your home
  • Recirculate the air in your home with fans to avoid bringing more air pollution into your home
  • Pay attention to their bodies; if they are having trouble breathing, feeling nauseous, or dizzy, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible.