ALEXANDRIA, Va. — More than 300 staff members at Alexandria City Public Schools have requested leave for “A Day Without a Woman” this Wednesday, prompting school closure for the day.
“Given the unusually high number of requests, this may be attributed to the observance of International Women’s Day. This day has also been deemed A Day Without Women. Consequently, ACPS has decided to close schools for students for the day,” superintendent Alvin L. Crawley said in a statement sent to parents and posted on the ACPS website Monday.
Crawley emphasized that the school system, located just south of Washington, DC, is not closing to make a political statement, but rather, because of inadequate staffing.
“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 statement said.
There are 16 schools within the Alexandria system and 1,415 teachers, according to its website. Despite the closure, ACPS will provide students with breakfast and lunch at six of its school locations.
Organized by the team behind the Women’s March on Washington, “A Day Without a Woman” is a strike for “equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.”
Women are encouraged to take the day off, avoid shopping (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses), and wear red in solidarity, per the Women’s March website.
Millions showed up for January’s march in the nation’s capital and similar events across the world. Wednesday will be a test of the movement’s lasting impact.
Alexandria isn’t the only school system closing Wednesday. Last week, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina canceled March 8 classes, citing a “significant” number of teachers participating in the strike.
“While Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools values and supports its female employees, the decision to close schools is not a political statement. It is entirely about the safety of students and the district’s inability to operate with a high number of staff absences,” superintendent Jim Causby wrote in a statement.