Prom in a Pandemic


Abbie Duffy, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the world, robbing people of many key social experiences and events. Prom is one of the most highly-regarded events in America. Sadly last year, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Wheeler’s prom was canceled. It isn’t easy to have many normal high school activities in these times, but Wheeler is still trying their best to provide their students with a fun and safe high school experience. The school recently sent out a survey about a potential prom in 2021. Though it would look different from a normal prom experience, it would give this year’s seniors, and potentially juniors, a chance to participate in a celebration for the end of their high school years. The biggest issue for prom would be safety. Is it possible to have a fun prom while still being safe amidst the heat of the coronavirus pandemic?
Even with safety protocols in place, millions of people worldwide have been impacted and infected with corona over the past year. Though prom seems like a necessary teen experience, some students and teachers agree that having a prom in our current circumstances would be selfish and irresponsible. When asked about prom this year, Avery Halseth (11) responded with, “Though it would be fun and it would be something I would look forward to, I don’t know if it would be a responsible choice or that teachers could ensure it was safe.” She followed up later, saying that if prom were to happen, making it a seniors-only event could help limit capacity and make the experience safer. Cameron Ward, the Latin teacher at Wheeler, was also questioned about a potential prom and noted that “On the one hand, yes because I think the students need something, especially the seniors. On the other hand, I think no, it’s irresponsible, especially to those people who have lost relatives. But on the other hand, again, these kids are already not being safe”. He further pressed on the points brought up by the interviewed student. Though he also added the factor of high school students already being irresponsible in the pandemic. In a case like that, what harm is having a more organized large social event rather than the unsafe ones they are having on their own. All in all, the safety and organization of prom are two of the key factors holding it from being supported by many students and staff.
On the other hand, many Wheeler students believe that a safe and organized prom can happen this year. Some teachers also agree. Rachel Lewis is a history teacher at Wheeler who is helping with efforts to try and organize a prom this year. When asked about precautions that could be taken to make prom safe, she said, “We are going to do, everyones going to have to wear masks, of course. We are going to take temperatures at the door. And then we are going to do sanitizing breaks every 45 minutes”. This event would have many chaperones and teachers working hard to make sure that everything was as sanitary as possible. A Wheeler student by the name of Alix Foy (11) was inquired about a prom event this year and making it safe; she agreed with Mrs. Lewis saying, “I think that if everyone wore masks, social distancing was enforced, and we held prom outside, we could have a fun time and still be safe.” She reiterated something many public health and CDC officials have said, which is masks and social distancing. This could ensure that students would safely be able to experience prom. Of course, it wouldn’t be normal, as nothing in the past year has been. Limiting numbers could also be an important element of making this event safer. Though most students said that both juniors and seniors should be able to attend prom this year, Ian Jewell (12) disagreed, saying, “I feel like if we are to have prom at all, it could just be for seniors. Especially considering the juniors will have a prom next year”. This will likely be the case, since this event is already high risk. Reducing the capacity of an event that is known to be large is a good way to make sure attending students feel safer. Many schools in Cobb County have already announced that they will not be having a prom this year. With impending approval still from Governor Brian Kemp, it is possible Wheeler will join the list of non participating schools. As with any others, this event comes with risks, but many students and staff are willing to work together to hold a safe event for many students to attend.