Editorial- Upcoming prom features lackluster mask guidelines

A+graphic+by+Harvey+Watkins+depicts+the+prom+theme%2C+%22Starry+Night%2C%22++with+masks.+Prom+will+not+require+masks+in+the+banquet+room.+%22Without+masks%2C+prom+is+inherently+a+risk+for+an+outbreak%2C%22+reporter+Wes+Barrett+said.+%22Earlier+this+year%2C+Prosper+ISD%C2%A0rationalized+rolling+back+quarantine+measures+by+arguing+that+the+school+could+quarantine+smaller+of+pods+of+people+to+minimize+disruption.+This+logic+will+not+work+for+prom.%22

Harvey Watkins

A graphic by Harvey Watkins depicts the prom theme, “Starry Night,” with masks. Prom will not require masks in the banquet room. “Without masks, prom is inherently a risk for an outbreak,” reporter Wes Barrett said. “Earlier this year, Prosper ISD rationalized rolling back quarantine measures by arguing that the school could quarantine smaller of pods of people to minimize disruption. This logic will not work for prom.”

This editorial was penned on behalf of the Hill Top Times staff by Wesley Barrett.

The school announced that it would not require masks at its first prom at the Plano Renaissance Legacy West Hotel May 1. The district specified that masks will be required upon entry per the building’s rules, but will not be enforced in the banquet room.

The school should change the proposed policy and strictly enforce mask usage.

The school may feel obligated to return to a “sense of normalcy” at prom. But by not enforcing mask usage, the school is promoting exclusion at the event. Many students, especially the online student population, are unable to attend school due to safety concerning COVID-19. Students want a magical night, but many will be robbed of that if they feel they have to risk their or a loved one’s health. This would mean that some seniors may never get a prom as a result of the mask guidelines.

Without masks, prom is inherently a risk for an outbreak. Earlier this year, Prosper ISD rationalized rolling back quarantine measures by arguing that the school could quarantine smaller of pods of people to minimize disruption. This logic will not work for prom. One room, even a large one, packed with almost half the school population is a situation that calls for more caution. The school was able to open for in-person learning at the beginning of the year, because it had reasonable enforcement. That leadership cannot be forgotten for prom.

The glaring hurdle for a more robust mask policy is the actual logistics of enforcement. While a new executive order from our governor, combined with the fear of unruly teens, can make the prospect murky, the school should still rise to the challenge. Administration has been able to routinely protect students and staff via enforcement on campus, shown not difficult by a transition to a hotel with remarkable similar policies as well as constantly low positive cases.

It’d be different if the policy in question was costly, the space of the venue made it infeasible, or if it wasn’t reasonable to enforce. Mask wearing is none of those. Wearing a mask is a practice that every student has to deal with. It’s one that faculty are specifically experienced in enforcing. It’s not just easy but remarkably effective in stemming spread of the virus. This one policy will go far in protecting students with no cost to the event and will make sure that the prom creates memories, not outbreaks.

Prom is a school sanctioned event, so as always, the school should prioritize safety. Current guidelines for masks do not meet this standard and thus should change.