SEVERNA PARK, Md. (WJZ) — For the second year in a row, Anne Arundel County Public Schools have been forced to alter their homecoming plans because of the pandemic.
The school district announced this week that homecoming dances will be postponed because due to the pandemic.
“Our goal all along has been not only to open schools but to keep them open and allow our students to experience everything we have to offer,” said Bob Mosier, the chief communications officer for the school district. “Our high school principals met with student leaders and provided feedback to Dr. Arlotto that reflected the feeling that in light of the risks posed by the ongoing pandemic, postponing the dance while still allowing many of the other festivities to continue was prudent and best comported with our goal to keep schools open all year. We are hopeful we can hold these dances in the not-to-distant future.”
“It’s really unfortunate because I feel like overall it’s going to end up getting canceled,” said Paige Davis, a student in the county.
During a school board meeting Wednesday night, a member said a petition at an area high school in support of holding the dances, received thousands of signatures. A motion to move dances outdoors also failed in that same meeting.
“Safety has to be number one,” said board member Robert Silkworth. “A homecoming in a basketball season or a lacrosse season, it’s not the same it’s just not the same, but that’s where we are. We are in times when some of our traditions are not going to be the same.”
Melissa Ellis, another board member who supported the measure to move dances outdoors said “I agree with Mr. Silkworth that a dance later in the year is not homecoming. It’s not how it’s going to feel, it’s not how it’s going to be perceived by the students.”
Baltimore County decided to cancel homecoming dances and indoor pep rallies this year.
Baltimore City Public School officials said the district hasn’t made a decision yet.
In Carroll County, school officials say homecoming dances will resume this fall and the dances will be outdoors. According to Carey Gaddis, the communications officer for Carroll County public schools, “because it is outside, students will not have to wear masks.”
Harford and Howard Counties will have homecoming dances with efforts to prevent the virus from spreading.
A statement from a Harford County official said “Homecoming dances are planned at each of our Harford County high schools with mitigation strategies in place.”
Officials in Howard County released the following statement: “Homecoming dances will be held completely outdoors at several schools, utilizing stadiums or other spaces at the schools such as parking lot areas. For the schools that are planning to use indoor space for the dance due to size/site limitations, there will be designated outside areas also available. All schools will hold outdoor pep rallies. All school system procedures requiring masking will be in place for any activities held indoors.
With dances being postponed in Anne Arundel County there are now concerns about equity if there are private parties.
“There will be private events and some kids will get to be a part of that and others won’t,” said board member Joanna Tobin. Tobin did not support the motion that attempted to move dances outdoors. Tobin told WJZ that she believes the decision to move dances outdoors should have been made by the superintendent of schools.
“Homecoming this fall will happen for some of our fortunate students whose parents decide to put together a private event and they will dress up and they will have pictures and it’s going to be during homecoming week,” said Ellis.
Other homecoming activities will take place in Anne Arundel County and that’s why some students are wondering why the dances had to be postponed.
“You can have football games with people without masks, 30 people in a bleacher and you can’t have a homecoming dance, I think that’s kind is dumb,” said Liam Cahill, a student.