UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Prince George's County Public Schools have announced they will close schools on Wednesday after 1,700 teachers and nearly a third of their transportation staff requested for the day off in observance of International Women's Day and "A Day Without a Woman" protest.
Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said in a statement:
"Throughout Prince George's County Public Schools, a high number of school-based and support staff have requested leave for Wednesday, March 8. As of 5:30 p.m., approximately 1,700 teachers and 30 percent of transportation staff have requested leave. We cannot transport students and provide safe, productive learning environments without adequate staff. As a result, schools will be closed tomorrow for students. We apologize for the inconvenience this will surely cause to many families.
"All employees will be expected to report for work or follow the normal procedures for leave requests.
"Based on our policies, PGCPS and the Prince George's County Board of Education have no political stance on "A Day Without a Woman." Schools will open Thursday, March 9 on a normal schedule."
"As a person, as a Prince Georgian, as a proud feminist, I understand the call of the organization's mission, I understand the dire need for that statement to be heard, and to the employees that requested personal leave off from Prince George's County Public Schools, the message was heard loud and clear to at least this board member," said Prince George's County School Board member K. Alexander Wallace.
Wallace told FOX 5 that it is his understand that the school district cannot deny a staff member personal leave no matter when it is requested.
Prince George's County Public Schools' announcement comes one day after Alexandria City Public Schools said they will be canceling classes on Wednesday due to more than 300 staff members requesting leave.
Helen Lloyd, director of communications for Alexandria City Public Schools, told FOX 5 their decision to close was made after school officials became aware that many teacher intended to take leave on the same day and the lack of substitute staffing available.
"The decision from Alexandria City Public Schools was not a political decision and we need to make that very clear," Lloyd said. "We did not make this because of politics. We made this decision because of safety and our ability to cover classrooms on this day."
Center City Public Charter Schools also will be closing all six of their campuses in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
Wednesday's "A Day Without a Woman" strike is the latest action by the organizers of Women's March held nationwide back in January. Women are being encouraged to take the day off from paid and unpaid work, wear red in solidarity of the strike, and refraining from shopping in stores or online, with the exception of small local and women-owned businesses.