The Superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools has announced that all schools will be closed on Wednesday after some 300 staff members in the district requested the day off to take part in the A Day Without a Woman protest being staged in the U.S. and elsewhere as part of International Women’s Day.
The march in the district, however, is related to and sponsored by many of the same groups that protested in Washington, D.C. following the election of Donald J. Trump as president.
“It has come to our attention that as of today, more than 300 staff members have requested leave this Wednesday, March 8,” a notice posted on the school district’s website said. “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 [sic],” the notice said. “Consequently, ACPS has decided to close schools for students for the day.
The notice, attributed to Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley, notes that the decision could be controversial.
“This is not a decision that was made lightly,” the notice said. “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,” the notice said. “It is not based on a political stance or position.”
The notice also acknowledges that not all parents will take part in the protest, which has as its primary sponsors Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“We understand that when schools close there is an impact on families, who may have to find unanticipated childcare,” the notice said. “We apologize for this unforeseen burden on parents and thank you for your patience and understanding.”
The banner on the A Day Without A Woman website reads: “On international Women’s Day, March 8th, women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity. Are you In?”
The event, with a subtitle of Women’s March on Washington, has other liberal and left-wing sponsors, including American Atheists, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), American Federation of Teachers, American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Art and Resistance Through Education, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for American Progress.
The website said:
In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting.
“We believe in gender justice,” the website said, and then it tells readers how they can help.
“Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:
- Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
- Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
- Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman”
Meanwhile, the Alexandria school district notice said that breakfast and lunch will still be served at some of its schools for all students, and that the day off will not require a makeup day for students.
“Thank you again for your patience and understanding while we work this through,” the school district notice concluded.