New Hampshire

At Prom, NH Students Marked as Vaccinated, Unvaccinated for Contact Tracing

High school students in Exeter were labeled with black and red markers based on whether they were fully vaccinated when attending prom, a move a state legislator said prompted outrage from parents

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A New Hampshire high school labeled unvaccinated and vaccinated students with marker at its prom last weekend, a move the principal said let the students "enjoy a close to normal" experience but which has drawn criticism from a state lawmaker.

Republican State Rep. Melissa Litchfield said she posted about the markings to social media and has been contacted by more than a dozen parents.

"The post has taken on a life of its own, exponentially," Litchfield said during an interview Thursday. "Every time I look at it, it's been shared."

She said some parents and students are upset over the decision to label unvaccinated students as they walked into their senior prom at Exeter High School.

"Children that were not vaccinated were written on in black Sharpie on their hands and those that were vaccinated had some type of red marker put on them," Litchfield said.

Two Massachusetts high school students are throwing their own prom after their school's was canceled.

In photos sent to Litchfield in response to her Facebook post, you can see the black Sharpie on the kids' hands while posing for prom photos.

"You had to produce your papers, and if you didn't produce your papers, you were branded with a black Sharpie," Litchfield said. "What does that mean to you? I'm just going to let that sit there."

Parents and students who contacted Litchfield refused to go on camera for us, they said for fear of retaliation from the school district.

"I'm just here because parents are afraid to speak up and they needed a voice and I understand," Litchfield said.

When the Holliston High School Class of 2021's senior prom was canceled, they reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help getting a refund of their $10,500 deposit from a top Boston hotel.

In an email to NBC10 Boston, the district explained that the labeling was the school's own contact tracing system, which allowed all students to attend prom whether 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," Principal Mike Monahan said in a statement. "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."

This district also said that, when students registered for prom, they were made aware of the contact tracing system.

However, Litchfield said parents had no idea and are frustrated they couldn't speak out beforehand.

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