Durham and Orange the latest NC districts to cancel school for teachers rally May 1

Durham Public Schools and Orange County schools will cancel classes and make May 1 an optional teacher work day because so many teachers want to take the day off to rally in Raleigh.

Durham announced the decision Monday morning to close for the May 1 rally after 568 teachers asked for that day off, more than double the number who typically are absent on any given day in May. On Monday evening, the Orange County school board voted to not have classes on May 1.

Durham typically has 213 teachers absent on a given day in May, but can only get about 167 substitutes, the district said in a press release.

“Given the lack of available substitute teachers and the likelihood of more requests for personal leave, it will not be possible to have adequate student supervision or instruction on that date,” the release said.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Lexington City Schools have also decided to close May 1. Monday’s news means at least four school districts will be closed May 1 but the number is likely to increase.

Last year, over 19,000 teachers marched through Raleigh on May 16 to express their concerns to lawmakers, and at least 42 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts closed..

The N.C. Association of Educators has scheduled this year’s march Wednesday, May 1, to focus on issues like raises, expanding Medicaid and hiring more school counselors and nurses.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson has asked teachers to instead consider lobbying during their spring break or after the end of the traditional school year.

The Durham Public Schools district will not have to make up the missed day of school, and meals will still be available in 13 schools.