Johnston County schools will close May 1 due to teachers protest in Raleigh

The Johnston County school system has joined the growing list of North Carolina school systems that will close on May 1 due to the mass teacher protest planned that day in Raleigh.

In their announcement Thursday afternoon, Johnston County school said May 1 will be an optional teacher workday because 505 teachers, teacher assistants, bus drivers and other school employees have requested the day off. Like other districts around the state, Johnston says it won’t have enough people to safely supervise students.

“It has also been made in the interest of the safety and security of our 37,000 students, which includes 23,000 students who ride the bus daily,” Johnston said in the announcement.

The N.C. Association of Educators has called on school employees across the state to request a personal day on May 1 so they can march and lobby state lawmakers.

On Thursday, Brunswick County, Cumberland County, Hoke County and Iredell-Statesville Schools also announced they will close on May 1. The decision means at least 21 school districts, including all five of the state’s largest school systems — Wake County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Guilford County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth and Cumberland — now have May 1 off.

Statewide, at least 720,953 of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students, or 47 percent, now have May 1 off. The number could continue to rise as it gets closer to May 1.

Last year, 19,000 people marched on Raleigh and at least 42 districts closed, representing around 1,043,000 students, or 68 percent of the state’s public school students.

State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has asked teachers to hold the protest on a non-school day, such as spring break or when the school year is over. He says students already have missed school because of Hurricane Florence and snow days.

Teachers are marching on a platform that includes raising pay for all school employees and expanding Medicaid funding.

Some districts have heeded Johnson’ call and are planning to stay open May 1, rejecting requests from some teachers to take the day off.

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