Parents of students at a New Hampshire high school have complained after teens were marked with a sharpie to identify them as unvaccinated at prom.
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated students at Exeter High School north of Boston were marked on their hands to show their vaccination status. While unvaccinated students were marked with a black sharpie, vaccinated students were marked with a red pen.
Parents who wanted to complain but were hesitant to speak out publicly contacted Republican State Representative Melissa Litchfield.
“I’m just here because parents are afraid to speak up and they needed a voice and I understand,” Ms Litchfield told NBC Boston.
“You had to produce your papers, and if you didn’t produce your papers, you were branded with a black Sharpie,” she added. “What does that mean to you? I'm just going to let that sit there.”
In a Facebook post on 8 June that Ms Litchfield said “has taken on a life of its own”, she quoted some of her constituents’ messages to her.
“If they were on the dance floor, they had to raise their hands after every three songs so their numbers could be recorded by other underclass students for contact tracing purposes. There’s even more to the story, but this alone is surprising to us. We truly feel they are literally branding our kids if they don’t get this experiential ‘emergency’ approved vaccine,” one person wrote.
Another wrote that the children were treated “like prisoners in Nazi Germany”.
“Marking them, thus singling them out, and then having to raise their hands is beyond tolerable,” the constituent added.
The school district said in an email to NBC Boston that the labelling was the school’s own system for contact tracing, which allowed students to go to prom regardless of their vaccination status.
The district added that students were made aware of the contact tracing system when they signed up to go to prom. But Ms Litchfield said parents didn’t know about the procedure and are now frustrated they were not given a chance to have their concerns heard beforehand.
“Our student and parent feedback has been extremely positive regarding the prom experience,” Principal Mike Monahan said in a statement. “We are aware that some concerns have been expressed that students were singled out or had their privacy violated.
“We made every effort possible – while adhering to contact tracing guidelines – to ensure that this did not happen. We hope the community will understand that while no model is perfect, this model let the students enjoy a close to normal and highly desired experience to cap off their senior year. That’s the memory we want to leave them with.”