SOUTH SALT LAKE — In a scene reminiscent of the 1984 movie “Footloose,” a Granite School District student petitioned her local school board Tuesday to reinstate school dances.
Unlike the fictional Ren McCormack, who fought his small town’s ban on dancing, Taylorsville High School junior Caitlin Bone pushed back against public health restrictions imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
“This is something that’s important to me and it’s important to my friends. You don’t get this time in your life back. Even while your school years are a sliver compared to the life ahead of you, you don’t get them back,” she said.
Or as McCormack, played by Kevin Bacon, told the Bomont Town Council: “See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. It’s the way it was in the beginning. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it should be now.”
Like McCormack, who said this of the council ordinance that banned dancing, “There was a time for this law, but not anymore,” Bone said the restrictions should be lifted because the school district now has the capacity to test students who would plan to go to a dance on the day of the event.
Granite School District has utilized a “test to stay” protocol as an alternative to dismissing in-school learning when a school has 15 active COVID-19 cases.
Rapid antigen tests can produce results within 15 minutes. A commonly used test requires a swab of a lower nostril, which is applied to a test card roughly the size of a credit card, which can detect the presence of proteins found on or within the novel coronavirus. Students who test negative stay in school and students who test positive isolate at home.
Bone said mandatory mask-wearing does not apply to athletes when they practice and compete. As a safety precaution, they are tested for COVID-19 weekly.
“Athletes are only tested weekly so a dance might be safer,” she said.
Bone said school dances and activities are what “make going to school fun. It would be incredibly disappointing to graduate and never have gotten a homecoming. There are ways we can have one safely and I think we should still have extracurriculars,” she said.
If need be, dance times could be staggered so all attendees are not in the venue at the same time, she suggested.
“Assemblies, dances and after-school clubs are the most memorable parts of high school and I don’t believe we should stop having them, especially now when kids are being shut out from the world and being kept far away from their friends,” Bone said.
Granite School District Superintendent Martin Bates directed staff to talk to Bone about work underway with county health officials to review end-of-school activities and determine whether they can resume safely.