32,000 Triangle Students Stayed Home On 'Day Without Immigrants'

Feb 24, 2017

File photo of several local service and faith organizations hosting a multicultural Thanksgiving Dinner to welcome immigrants and refugees. On Feb. 16, 2017, more than 32,000 students were absent on the "Day Without Immigrants."
Credit Reema Khrais / WUNC

Across the Triangle, more than 32,000 students were absent from school on Thursday, Feb. 16.

That's a full 15 percent of the total population, or about three times the absent rate for an average day.

There wasn't any snowfall that day, or any other weather event. No, that was the "Day Without Immigrants," a day in which immigrants around the nation removed themselves from their normal lives in an attempt to signal to the world what immigrants mean to this nation’s communities.

But even as rallies were held in Moore Square in Raleigh and other places throughout the nation, Triangle area schools felt little impact from the absences. School administrators largely declined to comment for the record, but spokespeople for various districts said the absences were barely noticed and were generally not addressed by administration.

Across the Triangle, 15 percent of students did not come to school on "The Day Without Immigrants." On a normal school day, about 5 percent of students are absent.
Credit Triangle area school districts

Even in Chatham County, where nearly one-fifth of the entire student population was absent, school system public relations coordinator John McCann said it was just another school day.

At the Durham Performance Learning Center, nearly two-thirds of students were absent that day. Principal Emmett Tilley said that while the absences were "certainly noticeable," they did "not cause disruptions."

The school is an outlier not only because of its relatively small size – total enrollment is less than 200 – but also because nearly one-third of students are Hispanic. Enrollment returned to normal levels the following day, and Tillery said classes went on as normal.