Conant homecoming 2021: what students attending need to know

Ashley Chang

Homecoming— Music and mosh pits; singing and smiles. Students jump in time with pounding bass, waving phone flashlights along to their favorite songs. The excitement is palpable. Then, COVID-19. How is it possible for such a social event to be socially distanced? What safety protocols are in place to prevent homecoming from becoming a super-spreader event?

Even as COVID-19 cases in Illinois have decreased over the last year, transmission rates throughout the state remain high. The Illinois Department of Health deems Cook County as an area of high transmission, and has set strict COVID protocols for schools. These include social distancing, quarantining if someone shows symptoms, and contact tracing requirements. This has made it difficult for administration to plan activities and events while simultaneously ensuring the safety of students and staff.

“We have been faced with the challenge of making sure we are not out of compliance with current COVID mitigations,” Conant Activities Director Jeannette Ardell said. “[The Conant staff] are all responsible for the safety of our students.”

This year, the Homecoming assembly and dance will take place outdoors. Staff will prepare the bleachers in order to maintain a 3-foot distance between students during the assembly, and the dance will occur behind the building, next to the tennis courts, in order to comply with current state guidelines. During Homecoming, there will be spaces away from the main dancing area available for students that provide more distance.

Masks are optional during both events, as they are outdoors, but masks will be required at all times while inside the building. The mask question has sparked some concern in students. Avisha Thakkar, ’25, said, “I would feel safer if masks were required, but I think that the event will be safe since it is outside. I trust people to maintain some distance.”

Contact tracing systems are in place during the school day and for sports and activities, helping to track any exposure to the virus within the school. If there is a positive test for COVID-19, anyone that may have been exposed will be alerted via an email, reminding them to monitor themselves for any symptoms. Students are encouraged to monitor their health and stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. This process will minimize risks during after school events like Homecoming.

The Homecoming dance is this Saturday, September 25. The Conant administration has put a great deal of effort into ensuring it is a safe and enjoyable event for students. Tickets must be purchased before Friday, September 24 as they will not be sold at the door.

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