News: Quick Takes

Eleven school districts won’t be open as teachers attend March for Students and Rally for Respect

The number of North Carolina districts closing schools May 16 is growing.

Eleven school districts plan to close as thousands of teachers travel to Raleigh for the March for Students and Rally for Respect. The event, sponsored by the N.C. Association of Educators, is meant to give teachers a chance to rally for higher pay and more resources.

The following schools decided to make May 16 an optional teacher work day: Wake County School System, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Durham Public Schools, Guilford County Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Mooresville Schools, Cabarrus County Schools, Orange County Schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Iredell-Statesville Schools, and Asheville City Schools.

“For some families, this change in the calendar will be overly burdensome. But, not being able to operate schools safely would violate our promise to our families to keep our students safe,” an Orange County schools news alert reads. “We hear the voices of our teachers, and OCS supports teachers.”

More than 40 percent of teachers in Orange County, roughly 221 of 553, requested a personal day to attend the march and rally. Some 600 teachers in Cabarrus County schools and about 2,000 in Charlotte-Mecklenburg have asked for the day. Thousands of teachers in Wake and Durham counties are participating, too.

“This decision was made since we cannot guarantee that we will have the necessary staff to maintain an uninterrupted day for curriculum and safely transport our students to and from school,” Iredell-Statesville school Superintendent Brady Johnson said in a news release.  “We will support the schools that will continue with their scheduled testing by augmenting their staff with Central Support personnel.”

School districts are getting creative to ensure students can still take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams. They’re looking for ways to feed children who rely on the schools for meals. Orange County is working to provide meals the day before the optional workday so students can take food home. Select schools in Wake will stay open so students can eat.

Bus drivers, custodians, and child nutrition staff in Orange will spend the day completing training and working on professional development.