Exeter, NH

Wave of outrage follows Exeter high school decision to mark prom attendees’ hands based on vaccination status

Amy Christie

WBTS-CD video screenshot

The Exeter high school prom was marked by controversy and anger after last weekend's prom attendees had their hands marked according to their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The decision upset a large number of students, parents and even a state lawmaker. The move was, however, defended by the school principal, as WBTS-CD reports.

How did it all happen?

WBTS-CD brought to light what took place at a high school prom in Exeter last weekend. Republican state Rep. Melissa Litchfield also wrote on social media about the controversy surrounding the Exeter prom, sharing with the station that she had been contacted by more than a dozen parents.

“Children that were not vaccinated were written on in black Sharpie on their hands, and those that were vaccinated had some type of a red marker put on them,” Litchfield noted to WBTS.

The lawmaker sent photos to the station showing how the hands of several prom attendees were marked in black.

“The dancing was divided among three dance floors. During the dancing, after every few songs they were asked to raise their hands to determine who they were around,” School Administrative Unit 16 stated for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

One person who contacted the lawmaker reportedly felt that the students at the prom were treated “like prisoners. Marking them, thus singling them out, and then having to raise their hands is beyond tolerable.”

“You had to produce your papers, and if you didn't produce your papers, you were branded with a black Sharpie. What does that mean to you? I'm just gonna let it sit there,” Litchfield emphasized for WBTS.

According to the station, the parents and students who got in touch with Litchfield refused to be filmed because they are afraid of retaliation measures from the school district.

“I'm just here because parents are afraid to speak up, and they needed a voice, and I understand,” the lawmaker pointed out.

What was the school’s reaction?

The district explained to the news station that marking the prom attendees’ hands was simply a part of the school's contact tracing system. They pointed out that all students were able to come to the event, whether they had been vaccinated or not.

“Our student and parent feedback has been extremely positive regarding the prom experience. We are aware that some concerns have been expressed that students were singled out or had their privacy violated. We made every effort possible, while adhering to contact tracing guidelines, to ensure that this did not happen. We hope the community will understand that while no model is perfect, this model let the students enjoy a close to normal and highly desired experience to cap off their senior year. That's the memory we want to leave them with,” principal Mike Monahan stated for WBTS about the Exeter prom controversy.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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