Prom problems: School district says private end-of-year events may look like they’re sanctioned, but they aren’t
The Nevada Joint Union High School District sent a message to students and families last week saying that, as the district has modified or canceled many end-of-year and graduation-related events, some privately organized events may have the “look and feel” of being district approved, but are not.
The message urged that they “carefully consider the risks and dangers of attending large public gatherings,” reminding that large gatherings remain prohibited under state public health guidance.
District Superintendent Brett McFadden said last week that he was aware of two or three possible end-of-year or graduation celebrations, organized by private individuals or businesses, and that the message to parents aimed to clarify that they are neither sanctioned nor sponsored by the district.
Among these is an event advertised by Nevada City restaurant Friar Tuck’s as “Nevada Union Jr. Prom/Senior Ball 2021.”
McFadden said the district had received phone calls from parents asking for clarification on whether the district was involved with or sponsoring the event, which is set to be held next week.
“If it’s a school sponsored event, we work hand in hand with county Public Health to make sure that they meet current California Department of Public Health safety guidelines, and there’s that assurance,” said McFadden. “But, we can’t ensure the overall safety to students and families at private events.”
Asked about the confusion over the Friar Tuck’s event, owner Ken Paige said he had only received one message expressing a decision not to attend after they realized that the event was not school sponsored.
“Other than that, I haven’t heard any confusion,” said Paige. “All I’ve heard is hundreds of emails of how happy everybody is.”
As of Saturday, at least 140 students had signed up for the event, according to Paige.
Asked about the response from those in the community concerned about the public health risk of the event, Paige said it is “not a new response,” and acknowledged that “COVID is real and COVID has issues,” but said he wants individuals to make a decision regarding whether to attend.
“If it is something of a concern, they should stay away, not come, make certain no one else is getting hurt or infected or bothered by it,” said Paige.
Paige said his intention in holding the event is to offer “a hope and a solution” to parents and students, some of whom he says have expressed to him their excitement personally as they “can’t believe they’re going to get to have a prom,” following an emotionally difficult year for many during the pandemic.
According to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy guidance, as Nevada County remains in the red tier, outdoor gatherings are limited to a capacity of 25 people and indoor gatherings are “strongly discouraged” as well as limited to no more than three households, 10 people, or 25% capacity, where applicable.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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