Monte Vista Jr. Prom Attendees Will Need To Be Fully Vaccinated

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DANVILLE, CA —Students attending Monte Vista High School’s junior prom will need to present proof of vaccinations in order to purchase a ticket, MVHS Principal Kevin Ahern told families in a Thursday email, the day before prom tickets went on sale. The message was also shared in a post on the school’s Instagram page to announce the beginning of ticket sales, though the post simply says “must be vaccinated to buy a ticket!”

The prom is scheduled to take place on Feb. 12 at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, just three weeks after the announcement. According to Ahern, the Scottish Rite Center informed the school that it is requiring attendees to be fully vaccinated in order to attend the event.

The new rules for the junior prom are in keeping with a Dec. 21 Oakland city emergency ordinance requiring anyone 12 or older to present proof of vaccination at a number of indoor locations, including clubs and banquet halls, that goes into effect Feb. 1. “Fully vaccinated” means two shots but not a booster, the school said. 88% of Danville residents are fully vaccinated, according to the most recent data from Contra Costa Health Services.

Monte Vista students must present a copy of their vaccination status and a valid ID when turning in their permission slips, and immediately prior to prom, the school said. Students will also need to wear masks indoors, though social distancing will not be observed. Per the ordinance, students with a demonstrated medical exemption to the vaccine will be able to come if they can provide a recent negative COVID-19 test. No alternative plans are proposed for unvaccinated students, or vaccinated students with unvaccinated dates.

"We recognize that many of our Juniors really look forward to events such as Prom and understand that some students and families may be disappointed with this situation," Ahern said in a Thursday email. "We want you to know that trying to secure an alternate venue while still holding our reservation in Oakland was not possible. The deposit was paid a while ago and the financial implications of moving the event to another location preclude us from moving it at this time."

The district’s other three high schools are holding outdoor proms at Lake Chalet in Oakland, just across the street from the Scottish Rite Center. Students will need to provide proof to go inside, but unvaccinated students will be allowed to stay in an outdoor tented area.

Plans for the Senior Ball later in the spring are still being determined. As is tradition, the prom will be held in San Francisco, which as of August requires proof of vaccination for anyone entering clubs or entertainment venues. According to San Ramon Valley Unified School District spokesperson Ilana Israel Samuels, 90% of Monte Vista’s senior class said they agreed with the policy of requiring vaccines in order to be able to hold their ball in its traditional spot.

Samuels told Patch that the district was unaware of the city ordinance until a walkthrough with the Scottish Rite Center last week.

Samuels said the district had been eyeing Alameda County restrictions, but did not expect an emergency declaration from the city of Oakland.

“We did not anticipate or have any history of needing to look at city emergency ordinances,” she said. “We were absolutely watching county changes, but the idea that the city was going to make an emergency ordinance a day or two before the winter break for students, I don’t think that was on our radar.”

Samuels said school and district leaders brainstormed a number of alternatives, including holding the event outdoors, or at the school, but they were not options at the location. Additionally, Samuels said the school would have lost out on its deposit, but was not immediately able to provide a figure for the cost. Samuels said they suggested raising the price of prom tickets from their existing $125, but wanted the prices to remain accessible.

“We want all of our students to be able to participate in all activities, but in this case it’s just not possible,” she said. “We really feel for the students and the families in this who are really disappointed.”

So far, the school’s only communications on the topic have been Ahern’s Thursday email to parents, and the Instagram post. Samuels said more communications will come in the following weeks. She also said that Dr. Ahern reported five or six emails from parents on the topic, and that they have not heard negative student feedback.

When asked if student or parent leadership had been consulted on how to proceed, Samuels replied, “We’re talking about such a high-level decision at this point, I’m not even sure if student leadership who were the planners were even consulted - at that point, it’s kind of at a point in the situation where there’s really nothing that can be done. We talked about it at the district level with the directors here, the executive directors here, and the principal in order to see what might be able to shift, and that’s when we realized there’s nothing else that can be done.”

This article originally appeared on the Danville Patch

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