Nearly 100 San Mateo High School students get COVID after prom

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's supposed to be one of the most magical nights of any high schooler's life, but for dozens of students at San Mateo High School, their recent prom turned out far from ideal.

"I was not very sick. I had a sore throat for a couple of days, like two. And then, um, congestion," said student, Parker Del Balso.

Following the event at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, 90 out of the 600 students in attendance tested positive for COVID-19.

Unlike some other schools in the area, masks at the prom were optional.

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District superintendent, Kevin Skelly, says all of the cases were mild.

"This has been a really hard year for kids and we need to keep having as many activities as we can," Skelly said.

That sentiment was also shared by many students in attendance, says Del Balso - one of the 90 to get COVID.

"Overall, I think it was worth it. It was a great, fun time," she said.

Del Balso's mother, Sandi, is the president of the San Mateo High School Parent-Teacher Organization.

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She says while she supports masking in general, the decision to let the prom be mask optional was made in accordance with San Francisco's own health guidance.

"You have to just weigh 'are we willing to sacrifice what will happen if you do get COVID and you have to quarantine' versus 'is it worth it just to go out and have a good time for something you can do only twice in your life really,'" said Del Balso.

Because of the San Mateo outbreak, Skelly says other schools in the district will ramp up their safety protocols ahead of their own proms.

"We're going to be more careful about activities. We're going to test more students beforehand to make sure they're not going into the dance COVID positive," he said.

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