[Opinion] Lack of following mask regulations and COVID-19 protocols at homecoming will result in a risky future for school events

Ava Jurick, Writer

Due to COVID-19 circumstances, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had its first in-person homecoming since 2019. This event was held on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Harbor Beach Marriott in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Although students were fun and lively, there was an extreme lack of masks and violations to COVID-19 protocols. This disobeyment to COVID-19 regulations could affect the future of school events, such as prom, sport games or other celebratory occasions.

I was excited to go to homecoming, but it was difficult to feel safe while simultaneously enjoying the dance. No one around me was wearing a mask or social distancing.

A variety of students from each grade level attended homecoming. 800 tickets were sold during the first allotment of sales, and over 75 additional tickets were sold to students who did not purchase their ticket the first time.

Some of the COVID-19 rules put in place included an online homecoming agreement, which included a COVID-19 waiver and a signed permission slip. Masks were “required” for the duration of the night and anyone who received a COVID-19 positive test result or was recently infected could not attend.

I ended up having an enjoyable time at homecoming, but I did fear endangering my family and friends by going to the dance. There was a plethora of possible exposures to COVID-19, which was frightening.

Despite the protocols set, students arrived at the event on buses and limousines surrounded by several others, disregarding the original mask mandate required to attend the dance. There were also multiple after-party-type celebrations held after homecoming, which furthered the unnecessary amount of exposure.

Thankfully, the security team at the event did their best to encourage students to wear masks. However, despite their greatest efforts, the majority of students did not follow the implemented COVID-19 safety protocols. Several chaperons additionally insisted on mask wearage, but to consistently watch over 800 students is a nearly impossible task.

In addition to masks not being worn properly, there was expectedly no social distancing whatsoever. There were large crowds of students on the dance floor and in the hallways, disobeying all procedures set in place for their health and safety. It was a difficult task to even move around the dance floor since there were so many students in, especially in the “mosh pit.”

While it is understandable that students want to enjoy their first homecoming experience after quarantining for over a year, there are numerous students who may suffer life-threatening implications due to the large portion of people disregarding COVID-19 protocols.

This raises the question: what will schools do, if anything, in response to students blatantly ignoring simple safety procedures?