Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 12:16 PM
Lisa Capparella got an email Monday afternoon from her kindergartner’s school announcing it would be open Thursday during the parade celebrating the Eagles’ historic Super Bowl win. But that didn’t last long.
The mother of two from Lansdale got a second email that night from Philadelphia’s Saint Helena School indicating it actually would be closed Thursday after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced all its high schools and parochial elementary schools in the five-county region would shutter for the day.
So Capparella, 35, a social worker, is working to find child care for her 18-month-old and 5-year-old. She’s not alone.
“It’s complicated to find care for your children on such short notice,” she said. “I think a lot of people are struggling to find somebody.”
At least 10 school districts in the Philadelphia region announced they’ll close Thursday for the Super Bowl celebration that could draw millions of spectators and fans into Philadelphia. Some parents are thrilled they won’t need an excuse to pull their child out for the day to experience the history. Hundreds of people cheered the decision on social media after both the School District of Philadelphia and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced closures.
And it’s not just city schools closing. Among the suburban districts closing are: Collingswood, Haddon Heights, Interboro, Oaklyn, Penn-Delco, Ridley, William Penn, and Upper Darby. Penn Charter and St. Joseph’s Prep will also close.
Amy Pohl, a lifelong Eagles fan and native Philadelphian who lives with her family in the city’s Bustleton section, applauded the archdiocese’s decision. She said both her sons will be off school Thursday and the family is planning on attending the parade. Pohl said that in 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series, she pulled her older son out of school to attend that championship parade. Had schools not canceled this time around, she would have done the same because “it brings people together and the kids should experience it.”
“Considering the times we’re in right now, all over the country there’s a lot of division,” Pohl, 42, said. “For this one day, everybody is going to come together, love each other, high-five, hug, and forget about all that and just experience joy.”
But the announcements have been met with mixed reactions. Other parents — many of whom can’t take off work — say that though they understand the historic nature of the parade, the closure may prove problematic for their families.
Take Peggy Wooten-Edwards. The 43-year-old who lives in Tacony has three children in Philadelphia’s public school system. Both she and her husband work in hospitality, and don’t anticipate they’ll be able to take off work Thursday. She’s just thankful her two high-school-aged teenagers say they’ll be able to stay home with her 11-year-old.
Wooten-Edwards said the closure is different from a snow day, when some employers may be more amenable to allowing a parent to take off work.
“It’s frivolous,” she said. “It’s not really for kids’ safety.”
The School District sees its differently. In a statement announcing the closure, School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said: “The excitement of the Eagles first Super Bowl victory is a once in a lifetime event.”
Lee Whack, a spokesman for the district, elaborated, saying it’s about more than allowing kids to experience a parade. It’s about the fact that roads across the city will be shut down for the parade and public transportation in and around the city is expected to be snarled. He pointed out that 60,000 of the district’s 200,000 students use public transportation to get to and from school.
“It’s not just the fact that we want to make sure people have the chance to participate if they would like to,” Whack said. “It’s a logistical thing.”
Ken Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said it’s “imperative” for schools within the city to close due to “the influx of people, coupled with several street closures and abnormally heavy demands on public transportation operating on special schedules.”
However, he said a “handful” of elementary school administrators in suburban counties indicated they would prefer to stay open. Gavin said it’s “not possible” for the Office of Catholic Education to prevent a parish elementary school from remaining open because those schools are under the jurisdiction of the local sponsoring parish.
Other districts made it clear they considered closing and ultimately decided to stay open. Cheltenham School District posted a message on its Facebook page Monday saying it was “examining contingency plans” as it considered “challenges” it may face associated with Thursday’s event. On Wednesday morning, the district announced schools would remain open.
The district wrote in a message to parents that it understands some parents will take their kids to the parade. Others coming to school “will have the opportunity to watch the parade and enjoy the experience with their classmates.”
Tracy Greenbaum, of Elkins Park, was one of the Cheltenham parents who had spoken out against closing schools. She was concerned because her regular babysitter indicated she, too, would be at the parade and couldn’t watch her 5-year-old.
“I don’t want to come off sounding like a grump or like I’m not excited for the city,” Greenbaum, 43, said. “But there’s these everyday things that we struggle with when we’re working parents when there’s not a parade. This would just exacerbate it.”