'Day Without a Woman' protest closes Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools
Posted March 8, 2017 6:03 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:39 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools canceled classes on Wednesday because dozens of teachers and staff planned to take part in protests as part of the nationwide Day Without a Woman.
The protest comes on International Women's Day, which commemorates the fight for women's rights. School officials said nearly 20 percent of the staff said they wouldn't be at work today to take part in the protest.
Administrators found that more than 400 staff members, including bus drivers, would be absent. Typically, the school system has about 100 staff members who are absent.
The district serves more than 12,000 students.
"This decision was not made to support any kind of demonstration or be part of any kind of political process," said school district spokesman Jeff Nash. "We simply looked at the numbers and decided that in order to keep our children safe today it was best that we not have school."
Durham Public Schools will hold classes on Wednesday despite knowing many staff members will be taking the day off. In a statement, DPS Board Chair Mike Lee said the district supports the employees participating in the protest but can't ask parents to rearrange their plans or miss their own jobs if the school were to close.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools has received some criticism from the community about its decision to cancel class, but Nash said the school made the right decision to close.
"We're entrusted with 12,000 students in our community that come through our doors every morning," Nash said. "We have two jobs: one is to educate them and, more importantly, to send them home safely.
"So, when we looked at the numbers, we just didn't want to take that risk today."
Though classes are canceled, it will be an optional work day for teachers. Staff members who take part in the protest will have to use a vacation day.