Students at Center Grove High School are apologizing after dozens posed for a group picture to mock the coronavirus last week, without masks and in defiance of Indiana’s stay-at-home order.
Jackson Gardner, student yearbook editor, denounced the stunt in an editorial for Center Grove’s student newspaper the Trojaneer, which published a picture circulating online.
“On May 13 at 6:30 p.m., countless seniors gathered against healthcare recommendations at the SCSA fields to celebrate senior week,” Gardner wrote. “This group of people, against the wishes of the school, state, and healthcare professionals across the country, met without masks and practiced zero social distancing guidelines.
“As a senior, I’m ashamed of my class,” he wrote.
The picture showed about 50 teens gathered in a large group in a parking lot at the school, several holding signs that read “quarantine sucks,” “senior week,” and others. The image shows students clearly violated Indiana’s stay-at-home order, which limits gatherings to 25 people and requires social distancing, the IndyStar reports.
Schools are closed in Indiana through at least June 30.
Gardner pointed out “it is illegal” for groups of 25 to meet before May 24, according to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track Indiana” plan, and admonished his classmates for potentially spreading the disease through the community.
“Students posed for pictures, promoted this behavior on social media and most of all created a perfect breeding ground for the virus,” he wrote. “Social media posts are not worth the risk.”
Center Grove officials postponed the high school’s graduation ceremonies until July 11 in hopes of preserving an in-person ceremony, with social distancing measures, but Gardner predicts his classmates flaunting the rules may derail those plans.
“It seems that my classmates have forgotten that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and this virus is no less real than it was in March,” he wrote. “The irony of this reckless behavior on a day that we should have been celebrating the hope of graduation occurring cannot be overlooked.
“If the administration sees seniors willfully ignoring social distancing, they might be forced to cancel commencement due to safety risks. But, I mean, if that’s what it takes to show seniors that this is a serious matter, I guess it has to happen.”
District spokeswoman Stacy Conrad said officials are “disappointed” with seniors and “will take all situations and guidance into account when making the final decisions on graduation and other events,” the IndyStar reports.
“As a school district, Center Grove does not authorize nor do we condone any events or gatherings that violate the guidelines established by the governor, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state and local health departments,” Conrad wrote in an email to the Daily Journal. “The administrators are disappointed that Center Grove students chose to ignore these guidelines.”