(WKBN) – Struthers Elementary has a tradition called “Fall Fest” in which students get the opportunity to dress up in their Halloween costumes and parade around the perimeter of the school. During that, family members can come to see the students in their costumes.
The school decided that wouldn’t be a good idea this year with the pandemic going on. School officials wanted to make sure everyone was socially distant. The children might also need assistance with costumes throughout the day, which might require a teacher’s help, and they wanted to limit that as much as possible.
People were upset about not being able to wear the costumes, and so a petition was started. Principal Dennis Hynes said it was great that people used their democratic process, but safety is the priority so they thought of another way to celebrate the holiday and have some fun.
“We tried to make it a four-day event and have a Fall Fest week,” said Hynes. “It wasn’t done in any other way than to protect them but yet still give them an alternative to have…a great week is really what we tried to do.”
On Monday, students were given white coronavirus masks to decorate in class. The next day was “Tacky Tuesday,” so students were encouraged to mismatch their clothes. Wednesday was “It’s fall y’all,” so students dressed in a western theme, according to Hynes.
Thursday, students wore black and orange shirts and the masks they created on Monday. Hynes also said the middle school did something similar to the elementary school for the week.
“Normally, we have the high school students come over and help the students get in costume. Well, you can’t do that this year,” said Hynes. “A lot of times, our PTA and volunteers would come in, and we’d assign them to a classroom…they would help the kids put their costumes on, again, you can’t do that this year. You can’t have volunteers in the school.”
They discussed having the students be in costume all day long, but they decided that might be difficult for younger students.
“We want to have a little bit of fun in a situation like this. We don’t want to take away the fun from them, we really don’t, and I felt horrible that we had to do that, but we also have to have the safety of the students throughout the day,” said Hynes.
He said he’s looking forward to next year so they can bring back Fall Fest the way it’s always been.
“They went through the democratic process…I commend them for wanting to at least express themselves. We heard them and we appreciate it, but at the same time, when it’s all said and done, we have to…things are just a little different this year, that’s all,” said Hynes.
The petition was made through change.org, and as of Friday morning, had just under 500 of the 1,000 signatures needed.
“I don’t want anybody to think we were trying to be rude or mean in any way, we weren’t doing that,” said Hynes.
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