Long Island police arrested a 17-year-old high school student on Thursday after he showed up to class for the third day in a row in protest of remote learning.
Maverick Stow, a senior at William Floyd High School in Long Island, NY, attempted to attend class for the third day in a row in defiance of the school district’s hybrid learning plan and his five-day suspension issued after he first attended class in protest on Tuesday. School administrators called the police on Stow on his third day of protest. Officers arrested the teen and later charged him with third-degree criminal trespass, according to Newsday.
After Stow’s arrest, the school district threatened to close the hybrid remote/in-class learning schedule and switch to fully remote classes.
“If Mr. Stow continues to try to access school grounds each day that we are open, we will close the high school — and its approximately 3,000 students — to all in-person learning and it will be all virtual for the foreseeable future,” school spokesman James Montalto said in a statement.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and will abide by the regulations set in place by our government and health officials designed to keep our students and staff safe. As we have said, Mr. Stow’s rights as a student do not surpass the rights of any of our other 8,799 students,” Montalto continued. “Most of our in-person classes at the high school are at maximum capacity according to the square footage of each classroom.”
Stow initially attended school in violation of the hybrid schedule on Tuesday, and after going to class all day school administrators issued him a five-day suspension for violating the district’s health protocol. Stow said at the time that he was protesting remote learning and believed that all students should be attending school five days a week.
“I was going to school like students should be going to school. I think that a five-day suspension is out of line,” he said at the time. “The virus doesn’t discriminate on Mondays or Tuesdays or Thursdays or Fridays. That’s not how it works.”
Stow attempted to attend class again on Wednesday in violation of his suspension, but school administrators stopped him and denied him access. Administrators accused Stow of “insubordinate behavior” and called the police to remove him from campus. Police said “the student left without incident” after they arrived, according to the New York Post.
Stow’s parents have supported and encouraged their son’s protest. On Wednesday, Stow’s mother, Nora Kaplan-Stow, said she was proud of him for standing up for his beliefs.
“I’m 1,000% behind him,” Kaplan-Stow said, according to Newsday. “I’m very proud of him. I support him for sticking up for something he feels passionately about.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that states and communities push to open schools as soon as possible citing the relatively low risk the coronavirus poses to students.
“The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus,” the CDC says in its guidance. “Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a similar position, citing the relatively high risk to students of depression, abuse, and other factors that increase as they spend more time away from school.