Close to 100 San Mateo High students are now recovering from COVID-19 after attending prom earlier this month. The massive outbreak pushed the district to test students daily.
The parents who spoke to NBC Bay Area Thursday said they hope other Bay Area high schools will learn from what happened in San Mateo and will consider implementing stricter guidelines, such as enforcing masks or moving the dance to an open venue.
As students across the Bay Area get ready for prom season, some are thinking whether to wear a mask or not.
“If it’s required, of course I am, but if not, I probably won’t wear it,” said Gustavo Avila.
Parent Nancy Perez told NBC Bay Area that she wants her son to participate in the milestone celebrations. But at the same time, she’s afraid of the risk that comes with being around so many others during a special celebration.
Recently, close to 90 San Mateo High School students tested positive for COVID-19 right after prom on April 9. It was held at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
In a statement, the San Mateo Union High School District said “masks were strongly recommended, but many students chose not to wear them.”
So far, all of the cases have been reported as mild or asymptomatic. The district said they’ve now been testing students daily.
“The state’s guidance right now for K-12 is masks are strongly recommended but not required, so the same will go for our proms,” said Jennifer Maddox, Director Of Communications and Engagement at the San Jose Unified School District.
The San Jose Unifed School District said COVID-19 played a big role in selecting venues for their proms, which are taking place late this month and in May. Three of their schools will have prom at Levi’s Stadium, where an outdoor venue is a possibility.
“Most of the schools are planning to do more of an appetizer style, where you stand in order type arrangement, instead of a seated dinner, which should also help with not having people all congregated in the same spot for a long period of time,” Maddox said.
Avila offered his own ideas for how to keep students safe.
“They should organize prom to where like in the entrance, they sanitize everyone there and make sure they are all wearing their mask properly, so they don’t get infected like what happened in San Mateo,” he said.
Students at San Jose High School will have prom at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, where two walls will be removed so students have both an indoor and outdoor location. Hopefully making Perez and others feel better when they see their children walk out their door in a tux and tie.