Air Quality Improves, But Philadelphia Schools Go Virtual Anyway

Plus, where to eat this weekend.

South Philadelphia's George W. Nebinger School, which, along with all other Philadelphia School District schools, has gone virtual due to the air quality in Philadelphia

South Philadelphia’s George W. Nebinger School. All Philadelphia schools have closed to in-person learning due to Philadelphia air quality. (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

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Air Quality Improves, But Philadelphia Schools Go Virtual Anyway

If you woke up early this morning and walked outside, you probably noticed a dramatic improvement in Philadelphia’s air quality.

At 7 a.m. on Thursday, the air quality was really bad. The city’s system rated it as hazardous—the worst it can be—with a particulate count of more than 380. But as of 7 a.m. on Friday, that count had gone down to 116. That’s in the lower end of the range for what the city deems “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

And yet the Philadelphia School District, which held in-person classes on Thursday, decided to switch to virtual learning on Friday. Here’s what the district had to say in a statement late on Thursday:

All schools will shift to remote learning – students should prepare to log in for remote learning. All employees – including school-based and Central Office staff – should report to your normal work location. All school-related outdoor activities that were scheduled for tomorrow, such as field trips or field days will be postponed and rescheduled, or canceled.

I’ve talked to some parents who are left scratching their heads over this decision, given the improvement in air quality. But it’s worth noting that the district couldn’t have known with any certainty what the air quality would be on Friday morning when they made that decision on Thursday.

One parent also pointed out that many children have already had to turn in their district-issued laptops, this being the end of the school year. So they’re left a little unsure as to just how remote learning is supposed to work.

And because it is the end of the school year, there are lots of special events happening. Like, say, graduation. At least one Philadelphia school has moved its Friday graduation indoors, meaning students have to chop their invite lists down due to space.

The good news is that it seems like things will be back to normal very soon. And we’ll be left with just the normal yucky pollution we’re stuck with — not Canada’s. Yay us!

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

How about Philly Beer Week? Perhaps you want to see what Kansas (as in the band) looks (and sounds) like these days. I’m hearing great things about Twelfth Night at the Wilma. Those and 101 other ideas here.

Where Are You Eating This Weekend?

Do you know what season it is? It’s soft-shell crab season. So whether you go to South Philly’s River Twice for their charcoal-grilled softies served with koji butter or to Delco’s iconic Clam Tavern for a more traditional presentation, you should most definitely eat soft-shells while you can.

Not a soft-shell fan? Try your best to get a table at one of the Philly restaurants that just cleaned up at the James Beard Awards. Good luck with that!

By the Numbers

$800 million: Approximate unspent federal pandemic aid sitting in Philadelphia’s coffers.

17: Age a 31-year-old Main Line English teacher allegedly pretended to be online to lure actual teenage girls into sending him explicit photos and videos.

$1,675,000: What this beach-block Victorian twin condo in Cape May will cost you, which doesn’t seem too bad given its location and the fact that it comes fully furnished.

And from the Brooms-at-the-Ready Sports Desk …

Our intrepid Victor Fiorillo closely monitored last night’s Phils game, for which MLB had monitored air quality all day, and reported no masks in sight except for those the catchers wore.

For some reason, Tyler Holton started on the mound for the Tigers but was replaced by Reese Olson in the second; Olson was originally scheduled to start the postponed game on Thursday night. The Phils’ starter was Zack Wheeler, who had a helluva game, with a no-hitter going — he allowed nothing but a walk — through the seventh.

Of course, the only Phil to have a hit in the early going was Kody Clemens, with a single in the third. Did you know he’s Roger Clemens’s son? One of four sons, all of whose names begin with K to honor their dad’s strikeout prowess. All right, that’s almost an excuse for the havoc having Kody, Kory, Koby and Kacey in one house had to cause. My sisters were Nan and Jan, and Mom couldn’t keep us straight.

In the bottom of the sixth, Bryce Harper hit a long sac fly that brought Kyle Schwarber home: 1-0 Phils. In the bottom of the seventh, Chasen Shreve came in to pitch for Detroit and gave up naught, striking out the side. Wheeler came out for the eighth, too, with “history on his mind,” as Scott Franzke put it; his best game ever was a two-hitter. But he was over 100 pitches already, and you know that’s the magic number nowadays.

So of course, Jonathan Schoop barely got to first on an error on Josh Harrison at third, who tried to be aggressive getting to the ball and landed his throw in the dirt. Damn. Tyler Nevin singled, for the end of the no-hitter and the end of Wheels. In came Seranthony, who gave up a safety squeeze off the plate by Zack Short, ruled a base hit, that brought a run home.

An acrobatic double play by Trea Turner for the last two outs was challenged by the Tigers to no avail.

Jason Foley came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, and Harrison made up for his earlier error by beating out a hit, diving for the bag headfirst on a bad throw from Javier Báez. Detroit would have appealed that, too, but they were out of chances. What a shame.

Time for Craig Kimbrel! Báez got a single and took second on an errant Kimbrel throw, and Nick Maton brought him home with a long fly ball. Kimbrel then gave up back-to-back walks to Akil Baddoo and Jake Marisnick, loading the bases, but Tyler Nevin hit a long fly ball to end the half. “The Phils need a bloop and a blast,” Franzke noted. With Alex Lange pitching, Harper doubled, Turner walked, and J.T. Realmuto struck out, putting Bryson Stott at the plate. He bounced one to Báez at shortstop: bases loaded for us. Brandon Marsh at bat, and his long fly brought Harper home. Tie game — hello, Kody Clemens! He singled the winning run home, and the Phils pulled it out, 3-2, to complete the sweep.

Who cares about climate change when the Phils are on a roll? And here’s your weekend schedule: They start a home stand against the Dodgers, with games tonight at 7:05, Saturday at 4:05, and Sunday at 1:35.

And in Doop News …

Late-night warning! The Union: have an away game vs. San Jose at 10:30 on Saturday night.

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.