Concerns have been raised by parents of unvaccinated students over the location of the Neshaminy High School prom.
Over the past few weeks, some parents and students have been alarmed about Philadelphia’s COVID-19 mitigation measures and the impact they may have on the May 2022 prom scheduled to take place. at the Sheraton Hotel in Center City.
Philadelphia’s current COVID-19 rules require people to be masked in certain situations. One is in places where food or drink is sold or served, including large event venues.
While the majority of Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of people between the ages of 15 and 19 is lower. Statewide, about 53.5% of all 15- to 19-year-olds have received at least one dose, with most fully immunized, according to state data.
The issue was raised at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
Matt Taylor of Middletown Township implored the school board to consider changing the venue.
“I don’t think it’s the right thing to do to put about half the kids in a situation where they get a vaccine they don’t want to get or miss their prom. They lost enough of their high school experience,” he said.
Alex York of Middletown Township is the parent of a high school student who is not vaccinated.
“Our concern is to have the place where there is a mandate for vaccinations,” she said.
Randy Miles of Middletown Township told the school board that the prom issue had the potential to divide the Neshaminy community. He mentioned that some members of the high school selection choir weren’t able to perform a holiday performance in Philadelphia recently because they weren’t vaccinated.
Miles asked the council to consider changing locations and urged people to be united.
Superintendent Dr Rob McGee told the audience that no one wanted the students excluded from the prom.
“I understand why parents are worried,” he said.
“The prom is a student-run event,” McGee said, noting that the prom committee chose the city location “a long time ago.”
As Neshaminy High School is one of the largest in the state, prom should be held in a large hall with plenty of room for dining, restrooms, meals, and dancing. City sites often match the criteria, McGee said.
The Sheraton worked with prom organizers to host the event at the venue, McGee said.
Neshaminy High School Principal Ryan Staub is working with prom and venue planners.
McGee said a change of venue would likely mean a change of date.
School board member Alicia Lafferty said she supports McGee’s position.
“We all agree that we don’t want to exclude any student,” she said.
“We will do our best to ensure that every child has that experience that we all looked forward to at school,” said board member Stephen Pirritano.
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