2 major DC-area school systems close as women ask off

WASHINGTON — Two major school systems in the D.C. area — Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland and Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia — are closed Wednesday because school employees asked off as part of a nationwide effort to bring awareness to the roles women play in society.

Parents in Prince George’s County had to scramble to find new plans for their children Tuesday night after the state’s second-largest school system abruptly canceled classes, saying hundreds of employees, including teachers and bus drivers, asked for the day off for the demonstration.

Prince George’s County Public Schools, which has more than 130,000 students, announced schools would be closed for students Wednesday after 1,700 teachers and 30 percent of its transportation staff asked for time off to participate in “A Day Without a Woman.”

“We cannot transport students and provide safe, productive learning environments without adequate staff,” said the school system’s CEO Kevin Maxwell.  “We apologize for the inconvenience this will surely cause to many families.”

Alexandria City Public Schools made the same announcement earlier in the week, saying classes were canceled Wednesday.

“More than 300 staff members have requested leave,” said Alexandria Superintendent Alvin Crawley, who said it was a “not a decision that was made lightly.”

“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,” Crawley said.

Several charter schools in the District also decided to close due to employees taking time off.

Center City Public Charter Schools, LAYC Career Academy and Lee Montessori Public Charter Schools are also closed today because of a shortage of staff. Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Free Public Charter School also is closed.

The nationwide demonstration was organized by the same groups that hosted January’s Women’s March, which drew massive crowds in D.C. the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Organizers have called for women to take the day off and encouraged them not to spend money to show their economic strength and impact on American society.

Though it is unclear how many women could participate, thousands across the country have signaled their support and interest online and to employers.

The event coincides with the U.N.-designated International Women’s Day, and organizers say they want to “stand with women around the globe.”

Unlike the Women’s March, Wednesday’s protest focuses on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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