A 17-year-old William Floyd High School senior was arrested for criminal trespassing on school grounds Thursday after he was suspended earlier in the week for violating the district’s coronavirus pandemic hybrid learning plan.
The student, Maverick Stow, told Newsday he was protesting against the current hybrid model — with three days of virtual learning and two days of in-person school attendance due to pandemic protocols — and his belief that students should attend five days a week and that the school can find a way to do so safely.
“I’m doing this because I feel strongly that we should be in school five days a week, that we should have all the extracurricular activities that come with it,” Stow told the paper. “The sports, the clubs, uh the field trips, you know. Those are all very important to kids and their learning.” Stow added that the reaction of fellow students has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
And his protest has gained national press attention.
But an online petition started by a Wiliam Floyd student and signed by more than 1,300 people as of 9:45 a.m. Friday condemned Stow’s actions, calling them an “egotistical spectacle” that do not “speak for what student activism looks like at William Floyd.”
With the district now threatening to close the high school and move to virtual learning for the foreseeable future for all its approximately 3,000 students for the foreseeable future if Stow continues to try to access school grounds, the student petition states, “We do not believe that we should be deprived of our two days of in-person learning because of the actions of a single student.”
The district said in a statement that moving online would be so that students “should not have to come to school to witness this circus atmosphere each day. Most of our in-person classes at the high school are at maximum capacity according to the square footage of each classroom. It is just not possible to have all of our students back under the current social distancing regulations. We will not condone or allow students to flagrantly break the law in our schools.”
On Fox News, board of education president Bob Vecchio added that as a suspended student, Stow was not authorized to be on school grounds, “and in today’s and age, with school safety being of utmost importance based on what we’ve seen in the past several years, we cannot have unauthorized individuals accessing our buildings,” and that eventually led to Stow’s arrest.
Stow said he plans to attempt to return to school until he can go five days a week.