Nearly 100 students who attended a high school prom in California have tested positive for COVID-19, the latest outbreak as schools navigate a return to normal amid the ongoing pandemic.
Masks were strongly recommended at the San Mateo High School prom on April 9 but many students chose not to wear them, said Laura Chalkley, a spokeswoman for the San Mateo Union High School District, which includes seven schools south of San Francisco.
At least 90 of the 600 students who attended the prom at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum have tested positive for the virus, she said. All cases reported to the district were mild or asymptomatic.
“This has been a really hard year for kids and we need to keep having as many activities as we can,” Kevin Skelly, the district superintendent, told KGO-TV.
He said upcoming proms at the district’s other high schools will have stricter safety protocols.
“We’re going to be more careful about activities. We’re going to test more students beforehand to make sure they are not going into the dance COVID positive,” he said.
Students at the nearby Hillsdale High School have been informed that students and staff will be required to wear a mask while indoors and proof of a negative test will be required to attend the prom Saturday.
“There are currently 500+ students signed up to attend this event, and I can’t wait to see you at our first indoor dance since 2019!” school principal Jeff Gilbert said in a note to students informing them of the new safety protocols.
The school has also teamed up with the California Department of Public Health to pilot a COVID Doggie Detection Program, he said, which enlists two medical detection dogs to sniff for COVID-19. Parents were told if they do not want their children to be screened by a dog to send them to the school’s regular testing prior to the prom.
The outbreak came after more than 50 students tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month after returning from a spring break trip to Washington, D.C. The students were among 112 eighth graders from two schools in Marin County, north of San Francisco, who took the annual excursion that was put on hold for the previous two years due to the pandemic, the Marin Independent Journal reported.