How Did BFHD Mandates Affect Area High School Homecomings?
According to parental and in many cases student reaction, Homecoming 2021 might as well have been canceled, like 2020.
The Benton Franklin Health District released a six-page document which they called "guidance" for Homecomings and other related events. However, the end result of the mandates was many area schools student leaders chose to cancel their traditional events.
The BFHD calls it guidance, but emails from area District officials make it clear these are mandates which the Districts are forced to comply with.
Kamiakin High School in Kennewick was the first to be affected significantly, as the "guidance" was released not long before the school was holding its event on Sept. 25th.
This "guidance" affects all high schools, and others, in Benton Franklin County.
Kamiakin announced their dance would require either a negative COVID test just prior to the event, or proof of vaccination. Compounding issues were parents having trouble finding the COVID test permission form online just so their child could get tested so they could attend.
Six-foot social distancing and masks were also required for the outdoor event. Public reaction was swift and angry. One person who posted in the B F Community Coalition for Education local Facebook page said their daughter had bought a new dress for the event, but with all the stipulations and mandates decided it just wasn't worth going to. The B F Community Coalition is a group of several thousand parents and students who've fought for in-person education, and were responsible for most of the rallies and marches seen over the last year.
Two phone calls and two emails to various KSD and KaHS officials have not been responded to, we reached out to find out how these mandates affected attendance.
Ty Beaver, the Public Information Officer for Richland Schools, told us via email the following about Richland and Hanford's Homecomings (Richland's was last weekend):
"Student leaders at both schools opted for activities and events other than school dances to celebrate their respective homecomings. This includes the election and crowning of a homecoming court at each school’s respective homecoming game, a fireworks display and other activities that are still being finalized. Any events will have to follow requirements already in place due to COVID-19, such as masking indoors or in large outdoor gatherings and physical distancing."
We have reached out to Pasco Schools, but have not received a response.
We have also been made aware of, as have many of you, about numerous private homecoming events being staged by parents away from the schools, and off school property. From what we have seen in feed back and information from parents, these appear to have been more widely attended than the official school functions.
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