A school district in the Washington, D.C. area was forced to shut down after over 300 teachers and faculty members requested leave to join in on “A Day Without Women” protests.

The closure was announced unexpectedly Monday by Alexandria City public schools.

The school district’s superintendent Alvin Crawley said in a statement, “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.”

Crawley emphasized that the decision to close schools was not political, but rather by force due to a shortage of staff.

“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 said.

The school’s closure left some working parents struggling to find care for their children. According to the Washington Post, one teacher said the closure has especially effected 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,” the teacher said.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in Central North Carolina said last week they would be shutting down schools for the same reason; teachers requested the day off for personal leave, presumably for the protests.

The “A Day Without Women” protests were arranged by the same group that staged the Women’s March in Washington the day after President Donald Trump took office. The group’s statement for the International Women’s Day march says, “On International Women’s Day, March 8th, women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.” The group encourages women to skip out on work, wear red, and avid shopping.

Unfortunately, this protest also came with a cost to low-income families as they scrambled to find child care and limited students’ education for the day.

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