‘Secret prom’ forces New Mexico high school to shut down over COVID risk, officials say

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A New Mexico high school has temporarily closed after officials say hundreds of students attended a “secret prom” over the weekend.

Mayfield High School will switch to remote learning beginning April 16 and reopen April 26 while the school district investigates a complaint filed with the governor’s office about the unauthorized event, KRQE reported.

“Irresponsible out-of-school activities have a tremendous impact on our health status in Doña Ana County,” said La Cruces Public Schools superintendent Ralph Ramos, according to the outlet. “We have worked tirelessly to stay in compliance with public health orders to get our students back in the classroom. We’ve advocated for vaccinations, efforts for increased COVID-19 testing, and anything else that essentially gets our county to green. Violating the order against mass gatherings is a disappointing disruption to those efforts.”

Photos of the event led officials to estimate up to 1,000 people were in attendance and to think students from other schools were also there, Ramos told KVIA.

“I was extremely disappointed. Obviously there’s people that organized this. There definitely were adults also involved and that’s just not the leadership that we condone. But on the other hand, I hope that this is just a lesson that we can learn from,” Ramos said.

Students who attended the prom could face academic suspension or may be banned from attending school events, including graduation, according to district spokesperson Kelly Jameson, La Cruces Sun News reported.

Josh Ziehl of Owl Cartel Event Productions, who was hired as the DJ for the prom, said there were “between 100 and 150 students” at the party and that temperature checks were performed, according to the Sun News. Ziehl said people wore masks, but they weren’t worn for the entire duration of the event.

There have been more than 194,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in New Mexico since the start of the pandemic and at least 3,997 deaths as of April 16, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

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