Principal: Distance learners not invited to Shelton High proms

SHELTON — The high school will hold separate junior and senior proms next month — but distance learners will not be on the guest list.

Shelton High Principal Kathy Riddle said there will be separate junior and senior proms. The junior prom will be May 21, and the senior prom will be held May 22, both at the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury.

Due to COVID capacity restrictions as well as safety precautions, Riddle said the school needs to limit attendance at both proms to only those who are attending classes in-person.

The decision sparked some complaints on social media from parents, who said it seemed remote learners were being punished for being careful and not attending classes in person.

“I know some students and parents are disappointed about not having dates or distance learners not being eligible to attend,” Riddle said, “but we are truly trying to provide our students the safest opportunity to celebrate this occasion.”

Riddle said most students she has heard from “are appreciative of the opportunity to have a prom. I am so proud of the hard work of our class advisors and officers in planning these events.”

Superintendent Ken Saranich has said parents will be able to decide whether to return their children to in-class learning or remain remote once schools reopen to a more normal schedule after April break.

All students will be back in class five days a week starting April 19, Saranich said. The move comes as district staffers — including café workers and bus drivers — received their second COVID-19 vaccine dose on Saturday.

"We want to protect the learning environment of in-person learners during the last six weeks of school,” Saranich said. “Families will have the opportunity to enjoy their spring break and be given enough time to make a decision on how their students will finish the school year.”

Those students who remain distance learners will not be able to participate in extracurricular school activities.

“This is not only for the high school,” Saranich said. “This is for all students — grades pre-K to 12.”

Saranich said there will be an exception for seniors to attend their graduation ceremony. Saranich said a committee has been established to “review circumstances of students who wish to return to school after the May 1 date and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com