Carter in the classroom

Schools Balance Need for Pep Rallies During the Pandemic

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There's no doubt about it, pep rallies are a part of the educational experience. But as schools navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, school days just are not the same.

"I saw it on Facebook. It was Friday afternoon and I was scrolling through and they had a link on there and I saw the pep rally and I saw my five-year-old in the front row," said mother Sierra Porter, of a video posted on Facebook of an assembly at her children's school.

She saw the whole school in one room, even high schoolers from another school came to participate in the Friday event.

"Monday morning my 7-year-old had a fever, she tested positive, and Tuesday my 5-year-old had a fever he tested positive. Wednesday I tested positive as well even though I'm vaccinated," she said. 

While she can't prove where they were infected, she says the probability is high.
"I thought this is insanely irresponsible,"  Porter told NBC 5. 

School leaders across North Texas say the pressure has been on from families demanding things get back to normal, students talking about their mental health, and parents who think this type of event is reckless.

Some schools are holding rallies outdoors in the open air. It's still difficult to social distance, but outdoor rather than inside has been a compromise many schools are taking up.

"There's been a lot of pressure as to whether or not to put people into a space, a space you can't social distance, it comes back to that balance, it's almost like kids have to have it. They have to, they are thriving to have something," said Randy Belcher, Principal, LD Bell High School, Hurst.

Porter said she was told she can opt her kids out of future rallies and wants other parents to know it's an option to consider, not just as a mom but as a medical professional. She's a physician assistant and says schools need to rethink how they handle indoor assemblies. 

"You're not just jeopardizing the health of the children but of the community. This significantly contributes to community spread."

Porter's students attend an elementary school in Midlothian ISD. The district told us the principal notified the parents of the assembly via a weekly newsletter and parents always have the option to opt-out. 

Still, the district is considering revising their policies on assemblies when COVID-19 cases reach a certain level on campus

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