After more than 300 Alexandria City Public Schools staff members requested off Wednesday, March 8, likely to observe the Day Without a Woman strike, ACPS has closed schools tomorrow.
In a statement on the ACPS website, Superintendent Alvin Crawley recognized the mass time-off requests might coincide with the strike, which is timed with International Women’s Day but notes the school system is not taking a “political stance” on the strike.
“This is not a decision that was made lightly,” Superintendent Alvin Crawley wrote in a statement on the ACPS website. “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.”
We hear you regarding the very difficult decision to close school for students Weds. We did not make the decision lightly. https://t.co/hxxzsHp7gW
— Alexandria Schools (@ACPSk12) March 6, 2017
In the statement, Crawley wrote Wednesday will be a teacher work day, but students will not have to come into school, and they won’t have to make up the day later in the semester. Certain educational programs will still take place that day, and select schools will still offer breakfast and lunch for students.
There are 16 Alexandria schools in all that will close Wednesday. The 300 staff members who asked for the day off are part of a greater staff of roughly 2,300, including 1,400 teachers.
Julie Painter, whose 6-year-old son, Liam, attends Samuel Tucker Elementary in Cameron Station, says she and other parents had to make last-minute child care arrangements due to the closure.
“I’ve hired a babysitter to come from 8-11:30 a.m., which is all she can do, so my husband can get at least three and a half hours of telework in, and then he’ll cover the rest,” Painter says.
While the school cancellation caught Painter by surprise, she says she supports the school system’s decision.
“I trust the school system and what they’ve had to do,” she says. “I don’t blame them—they’re sort of put in a rough spot. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they keep schools open and there wasn’t enough coverage and kids weren’t properly taken care of, that’s a problem. Clearly they know better what they need to make a good, safe learning environment for kids.”
The Day Without a Woman strike was organized by the same group behind the Women’s March on Washington, which drew an estimated 470,000 protesters to D.C. following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. According to the organization’s website, the strike is intended to shed a light on “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.”