2021 prom: who should be allowed to attend?

Promotion+photos+for+Orono%27s+2021+prom+are+put+up+around+the+school.

Lauryn Pietrzak

Promotion photos for Orono’s 2021 prom are put up around the school.

Most high schools are doing some sort of prom celebration, whether it be a dance or a dinner or anything in between, but prom is looking a little different this year in terms of the guests. In past years at Orono, all juniors and seniors were allowed to attend and students were able to invite a date or a friend from another school as long as they are under the age of 21 and at least a high school junior.

According to a note from our principal Dr. Steiner, “This year, to ensure we have space for all seniors who wish to attend prom, each senior must purchase their own ticket. Ticket sales will be open to seniors only through Sunday, April 25. On Monday, April 26, ticket sales will close, we will evaluate numbers compared to capacity limits and there is a possibility we will open ticket sales to OHS juniors. Our first goal is to ensure that every senior who wishes to attend is able to do so. We see this as a celebration of our seniors and the close of their time at Orono High School. Please note that due to capacity, no outside guests will be allowed.”

Due to Covid protocols, the school board is strict about the capacity limit, which is why tickets are at first only available to seniors, but they may be open to juniors once the prom organizers know how many seniors have purchased tickets.

The news of the prom details this year have excited many, but also disappointed a number of Orono students. It is common knowledge that students do not always find relationships with people in their own grade at their own school, especially in a school as small as Orono. This years’ senior class size is around 250 students and the capacity limits for prom are around the same number.

This leaves many students disappointed. After a difficult year for the class of 2021, learning that many students will not be able to attend prom with their partner seems to add salt to the wound. It is not fair that just because an Orono student’s boyfriend or girlfriend attends a different school means that they cannot spend an exciting evening with the person of their choosing. We can all understand the reason for the school’s decision considering coronavirus regulations, but there is a solution to this issue that could improve certain orono seniors’ outlook on the end of their high school career.

The state of COVID-19 in Minnesota has greatly improved and will continue to improve with the mask mandate and the growing availability of the vaccine. If we continue on the track we are on, by this time next year, the majority of people will be vaccinated and there is a high probability that next year’s seniors will be able to have a normal prom. As Dr. Steiner said, this prom is meant to celebrate the seniors, so why would the next people in line to purchase prom tickets be the juniors? Especially since they will likely get their own prom next spring.

Orono seniors should be able to decide who they want to attend prom since this prom is meant for them. Once the prom committee knows how many seniors bought tickets and decide how many more tickets can be sold while staying under capacity limits, tickets sales should re-open to seniors to purchase a ticket for a date of their choice, whether it be an Orono junior or a student from another school (under the age of 21 and at least a high school junior).

It is easy to manage the spread of COVID-19 even with guests from other schools attending. Masks are already required during the prom festivities for everyone. On top of that, to completely stop the spread of Coronavirus at this event, outside guests should only be allowed to attend if they can provide a negative COVID test 72 hours before prom, or have a valid vaccination record.

According to the Minnesota department of health, the Pfizer vaccine is available and approved for all people above the age of 16. Therefore making all possible attendees of prom eligible to be vaccinated.

Coronavirus tests are also readily accessible to anybody. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in order to receive a coronavirus test you can, “contact your healthcare provider or visit your state, tribal, local, and territorial health department’s website to find the latest local information on testing. The type of viral COVID-19 tests offered may differ by location. You and your healthcare provider might also consider either an at-home collection kit or an at-home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and if you can’t get tested by a healthcare provider or public health official.”

With COVID-19 tests and vaccines being so obtainable and the high probability of this year’s juniors having a prom next year, it is not impossible to allow people outside of Orono to attend our prom. As our principal said, this prom is for the class of 2021, so let the class spend their prom with the people they want.