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“We aren’t guinea pigs.” Teachers protest outside Hendricks County Health Department about schools reopening too soon

Staff Report

Wearing masks, about 45 teachers and some students showed up outside the Hendricks County Health Department Friday morning to protest the return of in-class learning.

About 45 teachers and students protested at the Hendricks County Health Department to ask for delays in starting in-person class at Hendricks County schools. (Photo by Eric Pritchett)

For districts like Avon Community School Corporation and the Brownsburg Community School Corporation, classes start next week. Protestors say it’s too early to return to the classroom with the number of COVID-19 cases climbing.

“We aren’t guinea pigs, and we don’t think it’s safe for students or staff to be back in buildings so soon,” said protest organizer Malari Williams, an Avon High School science teacher who said social distancing between desks will be a challenge.

Rally organizer Malari Williams teaches at Avon High School in a class that she says is not capable of social distancing in person. (Photo by Eric Pritchett)

Williams organized the last-minute protest and sent a letter to the ACSC district and the health department about her concerns.

“We really are asking for once the mask mandate starts to wait three weeks to see how that affects case numbers,” she said.

Avon High School teacher Kyle Nelson shared those feelings about students and staff returning to buildings so soon.

“They need to make teacher and student safety the priority. It’s too soon to do that, especially when there are better options. It seems reckless to go back to in-class learning,” said Nelson, who feels virtual learning would be a safer option for now.

Several districts in Central Indiana, including Indianapolis Public Schools, are delaying the school start date due to the uptick in numbers. Other districts are starting school with 100% virtual learning or a hybrid of students in person two days a week.

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