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Penn has announced that it will suspend classes and normal University operations on Friday, Sept. 25, the day before Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia for a two-day visit. The news marks a change of plans — as of late June, the University had planned to remain open that day.

Penn joins Rutgers University-Camden, Drexel University and the Community College of Philadelphia in canceling classes on Sept. 25. The schools say the logistical difficulties of the papal visit would make it difficult to operate as usual.

Public transportation that weekend will be running on an adjusted schedule with limited stops, and traffic restrictions will be placed around a portion of the city that includes West Philadelphia. During the visit, vehicles will not be allowed to enter the restricted zone, and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the Vine Street Expressway, and parts of the Schuylkill Expressway will be closed.

Penn notified its faculty and staff of the change in an email Thursday, citing "anticipated logistical and transportation issues" as reasons for the suspension. However, some staff, including public safety, dining services and facilities employees, will still report to work, according to the notification.

Previously, Penn had told its faculty and staff that the university would be operating normally on Sept. 25. In a June 29 email, Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said "the University of Pennsylvania expects to be open and operational, with all classes held as scheduled, on Friday, September 25."

Price and Carnaroli added that "the health system will avoid scheduling elective procedures at any of its downtown facilities between Friday, September 25 and Monday, September 28" and encouraged Penn employees who wished to make plans around the World Meeting of Families to obtain approval from their supervisors.

Pope Francis, who will visit the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and hold mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul while he is here, is expected to draw at least 1.5 million people to Philadelphia.

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