At least two districts now plan to close on Wednesday—the day of a planned women’s protest dubbed “A Day Without a Woman.”
On Monday, the Alexandria City school district in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., announced that it planned to close on Wednesday.
In a message posted on the district’s website, Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley said that more than 300 staff members—an “unusually high number"—requested the day off.
“This is not a decision that was made lightly,” Crawley wrote. “We have been closely monitoring requests for leave on March 8, including communicating with school leaders and our education association. The decision is based solely on our ability to provide sufficient staff to cover all our classrooms, and the impact of high staff absenteeism on student safety and delivery of instruction. It is not based on a political stance or position.”
The district has more than 15,000 students.
Last week, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro district in North Carolina also said that it was canceling classes on March 8, given the high number of projected absences and concerns about having enough staff to safely run the schools.
The organizers of the March 8 “A Day Without A Woman” strike have called for women and men to refrain from paid and unpaid labor, refrain from shopping, except at businesses owned by women and minorities, and to wear red in solidarity with the cause.
Alexandria’s students will not be required to make up the day because the district had already built in enough instructional days. The district will serve breakfast and lunch on Wednesday.
With public education being a largely female profession, districts could be heavily impacted Wednesday if large numbers of women decide to participate in the demonstrations. According to an NCES report, in 2011-12 school year 76 percent of public school teachers and slightly more than half of principals were women.
The District of Columbia school district said that it expected students and staff to be in school on Wednesday.
“While some may plan to attend this week’s walk out on International Women’s Day, all students and staff are expected to be in school throughout the day so that teaching and learning can continue,” John Davis, the district’s chief of schools, wrote to principals. “We respect the right to self-expression and peaceful protest in support of gender equality. We encourage staff and students to use this as an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women through classroom discussion and activities.”
The district “will continue to be safe places for all students and all people in our communities, regardless of immigration status, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” Davis said.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.