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A Day Without Women' national protest forces D.C.-area school system to shut down for day

Protesters walk during the Women's March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, on January 21 in Washington, D.C. The national protest “A Day Without Women” on Wednesday has forced some school district to cancel classes. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A Washington, D.C.-area school district cancelled classes Wednesday after more than 300 teachers and faculty members requested personal leave, presumably for the national protest “A Day Without Women.”

Alexandria City public schools announced the unexpected closure Monday afternoon.

"It has come to our attention that … more than 300 staff members have requested leave this Wednesday, March 8. 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,” ACPS superintendent Alvin Crawley said in a statement.

However, Crawley stressed that the decision to close schools Wednesday was not a political one, but rather they were forced to close schools because there weren’t enough personnel to adequately conduct school.

"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,” Crawley wrote.

The abrupt school closure left parents scrambling to find care providers for their children. One teacher even told the Washington Post that the closure has adversely affected low-income families.

"We’re actually probably causing a lot of working women to scramble for child care and some of them are minimum-wage workers,” a  teacher told the Post.

Still, ACPS said in their statement that six schools would be open Wednesday to provide breakfast and lunch to any student who wants it.

According to the ACPS website, the district has 16 schools — 13 of them pre-K or elementary schools — and 1,415 teachers.

However, ACPS isn't the only school system to announce a closure on Wednesday directly citing the protest. Last week, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in Central North Carolina announced they were forced to close schools Wednesday because too many teachers requested personal leave over the protest.

Wednesday's national protest comes on the same day as International Women's Day. The protest is organized by the same group who organized the Women's March on Washington, which drew millions to protest in the streets of D.C. and across the country the day after President Donald Trump took office.

According to the group, women are encouraged to completely disregard work — paid or unpaid — on Wednesday, in addition to avoid shopping and wear red in solidarity with other women.

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