Alexandria City Public Schools to close for 'A Day Without Women' due to teacher absence

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - Thousands of Alexandria City schoolchildren won’t be going to class Wednesday and it has nothing to do with the weather.

“It came as a surprise when my husband texted me to tell me there was no school,” says Courtney Scott, who has two boys in the fourth and fifth grades.

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, also known as "A Day Without Women." School officials say an unprecedented 300 teachers have requested leave.

That’s led to the closure of the district’s 16 schools, with 15,200 students getting the day off.

“This was not a political decision,” says school spokesperson Helen Lloyd. “This is about the safety of our students and our ability to deliver instruction to them.”

School officials say the Alexandria district has only enough substitute teachers to fill about one-third of the vacant slots.

Students will not be required to make up the instructional day.

The district says with the lack of snowy weather, there are enough days in the school calendar to close on Wednesday without affecting "the number of teaching days required by the state."

Still, outside Mt. Vernon Community School on Monday, some parents were caught off guard.

“I can imagine how big of an inconvenience it is for people who don't have child care and have to go in to work and don't have the options to stay home,” Scott says. “So, I can image some parents are feeling pretty overwhelmed right now.”

Some activities, like the Campagna Center Early Childhood and After School Programs, as well as all rec programs, will continue as usual.

"All Campagna Center Early Childhood Programs (Head Start, Early Head Start) and Campagna Kids After School programs will operate on the normal schedule. Campagna Kids Before School Program will be closed (Samuel Tucker and Polk Elementary School sites).
"All Rec programs at schools will continue to operate as usual.
"All ACPS scheduled after-school activities for March 8 will continue as planned."

Campagna before-school programs at Samuel Tucker and Polk elementary schools will be closed.

Breakfast and lunch programs at Patrick Henry Elementary, Jefferson-Houston School, the Cora Kelly School, William Ramsey Elementary, Francis Hammond Middle School, and T.C. Williams High School will be open to all students, whether they attend those schools or not.

The district warns even more than 300 employees may turn up missing Wednesday.

“We have just too many staff who’ve requested out, and it could be an issue that we have more - whether they were given the time off or not - maybe just take off,” Lloyd says.

In a letter to parents, the district says, “we understand that when schools close there is an impact of families, who may have to find unanticipated childcare. We apologize for this unforeseen burden on parents, and thank you for your patience and understanding.”

Other metro-area school districts are taking a different approach.

Montgomery County Public Schools is monitoring the situation "hour by hour."

Schools in Prince George’s, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties all say they are not closing for the day.

D.C. Public Schools issued a statement that says, in part, "all students and staff are expected to be in school throughout the day so that teaching and learning can continue.”

Scott says she’s fortunate she’s "a stay-at-home mother who doesn’t have to worry about child care."

But she’s sure others aren’t so lucky.

“It just comes as a surprise,” Scott says. “I'm sure parents are scrambling right now to try to figure it out.”

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