Chatham County Schools will be closed Wednesday, May 1, coinciding with a large teacher rally in Raleigh.

The Chatham County Board of Education unanimously voted in a special meeting on Thursday night to close the school district for students on May 1.

“We would prefer to have a normal day of school, but we simply would not have enough personnel on hand to ensure that our classrooms are adequately staffed. The number of employees who have already requested leave for May 1st and the potential for last-minute emergency/sick leave requests created a compelling need to close for students,” board chair Gary L. Leonard said in a message on the district website. “That being said, we remain committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and continue to support our system of public education and the work of our dedicated employees.”

The message said that the number of requests for vacation days was “initially manageable,” but “the number of absences that were not covered by a substitute has steadily increased over the past two days.”

May 1 will not be made up for students.

Chatham County Schools is now joining other districts across the state – including Chapel Hill – Carrboro and Orange County school districts – to cancel classes on the day of the teacher rally.

This is the second year that the teacher rally has been organized. Last year’s event drew an estimated crowd of 20,000 to lobby the General Assembly for increased education funds.

File photo of 2018 teacher rally