Apparently, there was a New Hampshire that was marking the hands of their prom attendees last weekend according to their COVID-19 vaccination status. Needless to say, this was a move that upset a lot of parents and students alike and even a state lawmaker. However, this decision is being defended by the principal, according to a local television station.
Not Sitting Well With State Lawmakers
Republican State Representative Melissa Litchfield wrote about this issue on her Facebook page and discussed how it was a growing controversy surrounding the prom activities at Exeter High School. She also told the local station that she had been contacted by at least a dozen parents.
Litchfield also noted to WBTS that some of the parents and the students were upset over the decision to mark the hands of students who had not received the vaccine as they entered the senior prom activities. “Children that were not vaccinated had that mark written out with a black Sharpie on their hands, and those that were vaccinated had something that resembled a red sharpie marker put on them.”
Litchfield also shared photos with the station that showed the hands of those who had not been vaccinated with a clear black marker inscription placed on their hands.
There was one person who complained to Litchfield regarding the issue, saying that she felt like the prom attendees were being treated “like prisoners in a Nazi Germany camp. Marking them is only going to single them out, and then having to raise their hands is beyond tolerable,” the woman said in a Facebook post.
“You had to produce your papers, and if you didn’t produce your propers, you are going to be branded with a black Sharpie,” Litchfield said to WBTS. “What does that type of treatment mean to you? I’m just gonna let it sit there.”
Parents: Afraid to Speak Up
The station also reported that there was a tremendous amount of parents who contacted Litchfield but they were afraid to come on camera because they were concerned about retaliation from the school district.
“I’m just here because there are parents who are afraid to speak up, and they needed a voice, so I understand,” Litchfield also added when she was interviewed by WBTS.
What did school officials have to say?
The district told the station that one of the main reasons why they decided to mark the prom attendees’ hands was because it was part of the school’s contact tracing system and it was supposed to allow all students to attend the event whether they had been vaccinated or not.
“The feedback we have received from students and parents has been extremely positive regarding the school prom experience,” principal Mike Monahan said in a statement to the same local network. “Yes, we are aware that some concerns have been expressed that some students had been singled out or felt they had their privacy violated. We made every effort possible to adhere to the contact tracing guidelines but at the same time to ensure that this didn’t happen. We hope that the surrounding community will understand that no model is perfect, but our students did enjoy a prom that was as close to normal as possible, and this model allowed them to do that. It was a perfectly healthy and safe way for them to cap off their senior year, and that is the memory we want to leave them with.”
Of course, one of the things that the district wanted to add to the narrative was that students had been made aware of the contact tracing system when they registered for the prom. However, Litchfield countered this by saying that parents didn’t know and were frustrated that they couldn’t speak out beforehand.
More Damage Control
The SAU 16 School District went even further with their damage control, explaining that their list of prom attendees did not include any personally identifiable information regarding individual vaccinations, nor did it list any numbers assigned to students, the paper noted.
“There was only a single set of cards with all of the information, and this exists simply for tracking purposes; the class advisor was the only individual that possessed them,” A representative from SAU noted. “We are going to destroy these cards in the next few days. As a result, there will no longer be any unique identifiers that are able to be tied back to students because they are unable to show proof of vaccination.”
Finally, the SAU 16 statement said that the prom had more than 300 attendees and it was held in a tent outside.
“No contract tracing system is perfect for crowds of this size, but if we didn’t have some type of contact tracing systems, then if there was a positive test tied back to this prom event, then everyone would have to be quarantined.”
SAU 19 told the paper that no positive cases of COVID-19 had been reported as a result of the prom, so apparently, their draconian measures paid off, at least in this case. However, there is no question that the parents should have been alerted regarding this.
What side do you find yourself on regarding this? Do you agree with the school more or do you think that marking the students’ hands was overstepping their bounds? Feel free to share your comments.