(Reuters) - At least two U.S. school districts have announced plans to close on Wednesday in anticipation of staff shortages for the nationwide “Day Without A Woman” strike.
The one-day protest, which is being held in conjunction with International Women’s Day, is intended to draw attention to the plight of women in the workplace who on average are paid less than men.
The protest is already affecting dozens of schools, which are heavily staffed by women. The strike organizers include some of the planners of the Jan. 21 women’s march on Washington and other U.S. cities.
In Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., Superintendent of Schools Alvin Crawley said classes for the entire district, which serves more than 15,000 students, would be canceled on Wednesday after 300 teachers and other staff members asked to have the day off.
“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 in an announcement.
Also canceling classes for the day are Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina, where officials anticipated that 400 to 2,000 staffers would not show up for work. The district, which encompasses 21 schools, said absences on a typical day number around 100 staffers, or 5 percent of its workforce.
The school district stressed that the decision to close was based on student safety and was not meant as a political statement.
Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler