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Alta High School Event Draws Concern, Outrage

SANDY, Utah – Parents and administrators at Alta High School have been under fire for holding a cheer team party on campus without following social distancing measures. It happened just one day after the school shutdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

School officials approved plans for the dinner, and required masks and social distancing.

A video surfaced online, showing the cheer team at a dinner Wednesday night. It appeared most of the group was not wearing wearing face masks or keeping a 6-foot space between one another.

Students said they were disappointed with what the video showed, and they hoped the actions of one group don’t ruin it for the whole school.

“The cheer team at Alta, having a big dinner party of 40 to 50 girls, and this happened after we had gotten our school shut down,” said junior Samantha Shirley, showing the video.

Officials from the Canyons School District said their coronavirus safety guidelines clearly weren’t followed.

LINK: Canyons COVID-19 Action Plan

Sophomore Lauren Shirley said some after-school activities were treated differently than others.

“To me it’s frustrating, because it’s the difference between, like, how these extracurriculars are being treated,” she said.

The school changed to online classes for two weeks Tuesday, following an uptick in coronavirus cases. Concerned classmates said other activities, like softball, were cancelled out off an abundance of caution.

“We were supposed to have softball practice, but they’re being extra safe and they cancelled it. I’m involved with choir and debate. We haven’t been able to meet with debate at all, and we can’t even take off our face masks to sing. If feels like cheer and football are a higher priority,” Samantha said.

The dinner happened just weeks after school officials said some cheerleaders were quarantined for the virus, according Canyons District Spokesperson Jeff Haney. He said the party had been approved under the notion that strict social distancing measures be in place.

District officials said because the safety guidelines were not followed at the dinner, they will have serious discussions with involved coaches, staff and other adults.

“We also can see that this didn’t happen, and we also can see that those who organized and oversaw the event did not hold to the standards and the conditions under which the event was approved,” Haney said. “The Alta High administration will be having discussions with coaches to remind them that if they want to continue with the events and activities, then we are just going to have to – have to – follow the safety precautions that have been put into place. We have rising numbers in that community, and we are asking for everybody to stand together.”

“The most important thing is we’re being cheated out of an education,” junior Emmi Raemer said. “I don’t think that’s fair that there are students struggling to do on-line learning, but there’s other students that are still okay going out without a mask and making it worse. Even if it doesn’t affect them, it can affect so many people around them.”

Concerned classmates said they’re looking at the bigger picture, and want in-class learning to continue.

“I feel that 98 percent of the student population that has been careful has been cheated out of an education because of these people’s ignorance and disregard for the rules,” said Samantha Shirley.

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