ASB enforces COVID restrictions for prom after student input

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Several Palo Alto High School juniors in a recent poll provide their opinions about online and in-person school amid the surge of omicron cases in the Paly community. The poll was posted on the Class of 2023’s Instagram page by the Associated Student Body at the start of the spring semester to measure the student body’s opinions about Paly’s continuance of in-person school and activities. As a result of these mixed reactions, ASB is making changes to events such as Prom to best ensure the safety of the Paly community from COVID. “Many students were in favor of shifting to online school for a few weeks, while essentially the rest of the students wished to continue learning in person but have mask mandates and quarantine procedures more heavily enforced,” Junior Class President Ashley Hung said. Photo: Ashley Hung (Note: explicit language removed)

Following the recent date and location reveal of Prom, Palo Alto High School’s Associated Student Body is continuing to make adjustments to ensure COVID safety while organizing more events during the second semester.

In a promotional video posted on ASB’s Instagram page on Jan. 30, ASB announced that this year’s prom will be hosted at the San Francisco Exploratorium on May 14. Because of the recent surge of the omicron variant within the Paly community, ASB is enforcing a COVID vaccine and booster shot or negative COVID test mandate for all prom attendees per the city of San Francisco’s regulations.

Junior Class Vice President Ines Legrand said ASB has planned around these requirements so the event is extremely COVID safe considering the risks omicron presents.

“We [ASB] are pushing that all food is eaten outside during the event, as well as masks to be worn when inside to make the event as COVID friendly as possible,” Legrand said.

Junior Class President Ashley Hung echoes how ASB has been monitoring COVID case numbers and San Francisco’s regularly updated regulations.

“We definitely had to work around the variant,” Hung said. “For example, for prom, we’re placing more restrictions on who can attend in order to follow the guidelines of the venue and city.”

According to Hung, the vaccine and negative test restrictions were placed as a result of the mixed reactions that ASB received from a poll published on the class of 2023’s Instagram page, in which they surveyed juniors about their opinions on the Paly community’s reaction to the surge of omicron. 

The responses consisted of a range of opinions, from students urging to return to virtual school to students favoring in-person school to some students even offering alternative ideas such as enforcing stricter mask mandates and making weekly COVID tests mandatory for all members of the Paly community.

“I’m honestly concerned about my safety every day at school,” one junior responded to the poll. “I hope the school provides at least academic resources to those sick and taking precautions.”

On the other hand, another junior responded to the poll with “Online my grades go down. It’s [COVID is] less bad than the flu.”

Given this debate over going virtual and staying in-person, Freshman Class President Julian Hong said ASB is also making changes to their other upcoming events, including Club Day II, Love Week, and Wellness Fishbowl.

“We have planned a Wellness Fishbowl meant to encourage student voices, but due to omicron, we have had to delay it,” Hong said. “In general, individual class events have been postponed. For example, a freshmen class event is being moved until after February.”

Hung also said that while easing the stress of students through fun events is of great importance to ASB, ensuring the safety of the student body through efficient communication is currently their main priority.

“As class president, I’m working to create a balance between safety and fun and keep my class updated with the constant changes of COVID procedures to help maintain safety at school,” Hung said.

More updates about ASB can be found here.