Members of the community protest admin’s decision to return full-time


On Thursday, Feb. 18, the Center Grove school board voted to return secondary students to buildings fulltime beginning on March 8. In the wake of this announcement, many students, parents and teachers publicly expressed their disappointment with the decision. One sophomore has gone as far as creating a petition against it. 

“The school needs to maintain the hybrid schedule, providing additional resources for families, students and staff that have been quarantined,” sophomore Meghan Stanley said. “After the recent passing of a teacher, I just want students, staff and parents to have a voice during this time.”

The petition to stay on the hybrid schedule, created Feb. 22, has gained over 1,300 signatures and the attention of students and parents alike. A post created by English teacher Josh Surface that was reposted by several high school teachers has also begun to circulate within the community, stating that 85% of secondary school teachers in the district voted to stay hybrid. 

“Honestly, I did not think it would get as big as it has gotten, but I am so happy that people are taking initiative,” Stanley said. “Multiple people have come to me saying that they have taken action as well. I hope the school board sees this as a wake up call.”

Regarding the petition, English teacher David Lawson feels proud of students for raising their voices.

“I talked with some of my students and I told them I was very proud of them and very appreciative because I read the comments,” Lawson said. “ As a teacher I was happy because I read virtually all the comments, and they were mature, reasoned, objective, thoughtful, emotional but still compelling.”

Along with the petition against the decision to go back to full-time in-person learning, a student walkout has been planned by the Instagram account @walkoutcghs for March 1 and March 2 at 8:30 a.m.

“I think there’s evidence that the numbers of cases of COVID are dropping. I think the state tells us that, and I think the county tells us that. I think that’s undeniable. What I also think though is we know at this point the cycles that are typical,” Lawson said. “After fall break, after Thanksgiving break, after Christmas break, we saw spikes, we saw quarantines, we saw cases on the rise. When you get 2,700 people in the building, you’re going to have more cases when you have more vacations.”

According to Lawson, the administration is required by state law to send decisions through building and corporation discussions so teachers are aware of changes to teaching practice.

“Administration is required by state law to send decisions through building and corporation discussions so teachers are aware of changes to teaching practice and a variety of other things. [We had that Feb. 23]. That meeting [was] held via Zoom, so we can observe social distancing. Can you explain to me the irony of teachers and school administration Zooming because of social distancing? Because we don’t want 35 people in one room? But on March 8, we are going to send 2,700 kids back into the high school and 2,000 kids into both middle schools. We are going to have class sizes in the middle schools as high as 37, and we are going to have class sizes in the high school as big as 35 in rooms that were designed for 20 to 25 kids 60 years ago,” Lawson said. “Is it ironic? Yes. Is it insulting? Yes. But that’s the reality we deal with. That’s the reality that I’m not sure a lot of people see as ironic. I think a lot of people observe that as necessary, but I don’t think they’re viewing it from the perspective of teachers who surround themselves with as many as 150 to 160 kids every day.”

Students and teachers have criticized the school for the decision, especially after the passing of chemistry teacher Russ Milligan from COVID-19 complications.

“I think there is an enormous psychological weight,” Lawson said. “I lost a colleague. The students lost a teacher. Mr. Milligan was a very high-profile person. He was a leader in the building. He was revered by his colleagues. Kids loved him, and he was known across the state as a coach. It was a very high-profile loss. I think the science department is reeling, I think students are reeling, and I think there is a lot of ‘psychological weight’ that is hard to put into words. I think it’s hard to ask people to come back into the building after we’ve lost someone to it.”

Some students have expressed concerns about being seen as disrespectful if they choose to participate.

“It wouldn’t be professional to ever encourage kids to leave the safety of the building or to tell them to leave the building,” Lawson said. “I will say that it’s a wonderful thing to see young people advocating for others and for their peers and for their teachers. I applaud them for that.”