Angela Christie, a Franklin resident with children in the school district, was quite surprised when one of her daughters received this e-mail at 2:44 pm on January 28 regarding an upcoming school dance:
Hello Saber Students,
The 2022 Winterlude Dance, hosted by the Class of 2024, will be held at Franklin High School on Saturday, February 12th from 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm. If you are interested in attending, please read this email carefully to understand the expectations and procedure to purchase a ticket and to gain entry to the dance.
Requirements to gain entry after purchasing a ticket:
- All attendees will be verified by our health services team for one of the following. Mr. Hein will connect with individuals who do not meet option A or B below.
A. Verification of completed vaccination (FHS health staff will verify after the ticket is ordered. See Option C if you do not qualify for this at this time.)
B. Recovery from a positive test within 90 days of Saturday, February 12th. (Testing must have been reported via a state testing site. At-home tests are not accepted. FHS health staff will verify.)
If neither option A or B can be verified by our school nursing staff, students who purchase tickets will be contacted via email and asked to complete Option C.
C. Negative test from state testing center between Wednesday, February 9th and Friday, February 10th. You may test at school. Click here to read more about FPS & FHS On-site Testing.
- All dance attendees must have student fees paid in full and no outstanding/unserved detention time.
The dance will follow the same masking requirements as the high school. If, at the time of the event on Saturday, February 12th, the high school requires masks during school hours, masks will also be required for the entire duration of the dance.
For this event, there is a total capacity of 400 students. Tickets will be sold online only from Friday, January 28th to Friday February 4th. *See below for the procedure to establish ticket priority if we reach the capacity limit. Purchasing a ticket does not guarantee attendance*. Guest passes can be found here and must be turned into the office by Thursday, February 10th. The online ticket site will close promptly at 3:30 pm on Friday, February 4th. All ticket sales are final.
By purchasing a ticket, you agree to meet the requirements to gain entry as listed above as well as abide by the current protocols in place at the time of the dance, which may include masking requirements.
Student ID numbers and student emails must be included on the ticket purchase. Tickets are $15. Ready to purchase? Tickets can be purchased here.
Establishing priority for ticket sales and event attendance:
In the event that FHS has capacity restrictions for events, we will prioritize seniors, then juniors, then guests of seniors, then guests of Juniors. If you purchase a ticket and are not able to attend due to a capacity limitation, you will be notified and your ticket will be refunded the week of February 7.
With Saber Pride
Director of Athletics and Activities
Franklin High School
All Christie wanted was some answers. So she sent off an e-mail with legitimate questions to Jordan Hein on January 31:
Morning Mr. Hein.
My daughter forwarded me this email regarding the Winterlude dance coming in February.
First, I’d inquire about why this was only sent to the students and not to parents – release of medical information and consent to testing should be instruction given to parents.
Second, could you comment on why this is the process now when my daughter attended Homecoming without restriction?
Thank you for your time.
If there’s one important lesson we’ve learned in the past couple of years it’s that the Franklin school district gets a failing grade when it comes to honesty and transparency.
Read Hein’s lame excuse to Christie the same day, Monday, January 31:
The information was sent to students Friday and is in today’s newsletters. It is also posted to our website under Athletics & Activities -> Winterlude 2022. I wanted to get it to students on Friday after getting feedback from our athletics and activities council (a student leadership council) that they would rather have the information on Friday instead of waiting until Monday.
We continue to adjust to rising cases from the omicron variant and this was what was required in order for us to proceed with the dance.
Christie back to Hein on January 31:
Thanks for that information – Can you say who ordered this requirement?
To note – the cases have gone down as fast as they increased and the high school is within the three schools that no longer require masks.
I would love to be in contact with whomever was enacting this requirement – I know you are just the messenger.
Thank you so so much.
Hein back to Christie:
The data is encouraging and I hope it continues to drop. The team that assists me with developing protocols for our athletics and activities consists of myself, Dr. Judy Mueller, and our school nurses. The district level team consults with a medical advisory team as outlined in the recent COVID-19 board report.
Wednesday, February 2: Christie wrote back to Hein:
I’m contacting you in regards to the new protocols for the Winterlude dance coming up 2/12.
I would be interested to know why we have a testing requirement for unvaccinated students or any process at all.
We are all very aware that having a covid vaccine does not remove the chance of getting or passing the virus.
Homecoming did not have this process with very similar covid positive numbers.
I’d note the message was sent 1/31 with 18 positive cases and in October we were at 14 @FHS.
I would ask that you remove this process if the number of positive cases continues to decline.
Hein responded the same day, February 2:
As you mentioned previously, we are trending downward with active cases at FHS and within our community. While this is positive news, it remains our goal to keep our students and staff in the classroom for in-person learning and our events will be designed and operated to minimize disruptions to in-person learning. I understand you do not agree with the requirements for Winterlude and I understand your position.
While no vaccine for any illness is 100%, what is proven is that those who have completed vaccination for various illnesses, if they were to contract that illness for the most part they would have a much milder version of the illness. At this time, COVID-19 vaccine continues to be the best mitigation measure to slowing the spread of illness and reducing the overall length and severity of illness.
We were not able to offer any version of Winterlude last year. Our Winterlude requirements are an effort to mitigate the risk of severe illness for our students, staff, and the families of our students and staff. The only way to guarantee zero cases from a dance is to not hold a dance. I, and our health team, strongly believe that our students deserve the opportunity to participate in this event again and we have several teams of adult staff members working hard to make this possible for our students. This year, we are able to offer the opportunity to participate with simple requirements that 100% of our students can meet if they choose to participate in this voluntary activity.
I appreciate you sharing the data tables and asking the question based on active cases. The January 26, 2022 COVID Semester Update presented to the Board of Education offers several points of data that are crucial as we plan large events or traditions for our students. In this graph tracking the positivity rate, the red line is the 21-22 school year, the blue line is the last school year. You can see the positivity rate start to spike in the weeks following homecoming. You can also see the remarkable spike in cases this January. This data is shown on page 12 of the report and the data is reported as of January 14th, 2022.
All of our students will be able to participate by meeting requirements A, B, or C as listed on the Winterlude page and communicated previously.
Hein copied his response to District Administrator Judy Mueller, School Board President Mike Spragg, and FPS nurses.
Now let’s move to February 9 and Christie:
Thank you for your response. While I may not agree with the statement that the covid vaccine is the best mitigation measure to slowing the spread – I can agree to disagree at this point.
The fact is this – the data table you reference does not show the picture to date – there is ONE positive case of covid at the high school. There are only THREE cases in the entire district. I completely understand that at planning time – numbers were on a steady increase – but TODAY is the lowest case number we have seen – ever.
I would still like to see an email today stating that the science proves that all measures we are using – are working – and we no longer need to test or request vaccine information to attend this dance.
Parents are keeping children home while sick, washing hands appropriately and yes – vaccines do add a layer of protection. Not one thing alone can stop the spread of viruses but multiple processes can curb the spread… as parents and schools have been doing for years.
These kids are in school all day – without masks – together – I do not understand the need to test and check vaccine status for a two hour dance on a Saturday in the middle of the school year; especially given our data available today.
Please reconsider testing or requesting vaccine status to attend Winterlude.
Christie got a response that day from Judy Mueller:
I would like to begin by stating that we are all very happy that the case rates have declined. It’s been a very long 22 months for everyone. The dashboard shows the number of cases we were informed of from Thursday, February 3rd – Monday, February 8th, and fortunately, it was only a few.
I agree with you that parents are keeping children home while sick, vaccines add a layer of protection, and not one thing can stop the spread of viruses. Data on the effectiveness of vaccines and other COVID-19 protocols can be found on the CDC website. Our internal data demonstrates that the protocols we have had in place have allowed us to maintain significantly lower cases in our schools than the case rates overall in the city of Franklin. Consequently, we have kept our schools open for in-person learning.
In response to your suggestion that we should not require vaccine status or testing because case rates are lower, we needed to set and communicate about the dance a month ahead of time for planning purposes. Therefore, a decision had to be made about the protocols, and it had to be based on the data we had at the time.
The students, and their families, who have purchased the tickets did so knowing what the protocols would be. I sent a message to our nurses, and they have informed me that several students attending the dance have parents who have concerns about ensuring COVID-19 protocols are followed. There are also students attending that have serious health conditions. I feel that it is unfair to these families and students to revise the already established protocols now.
One other factor to consider is a high school dance is unlike any other event. It is not anything like being together in a gym watching a sporting event. It doesn’t matter if you give them more space; they all bunch up near the DJ. I can understand why a family with a student with a health condition or a family member with a health condition would be concerned.
We have worked hard to make testing as convenient as possible for our students and their families. We have also provided options for families to test at other locations.
I hope this helps explain why we are maintaining the protocols we shared when our families and students decided to attend the Winterlude dance.
Have a good day.
Judy Mueller, PhD
Franklin Public Schools
Christie’s daughter has taken a test and will attend Saturday’s dance.
With there being just a handful of cases in the entire district, Christie makes a valid point. Why did her high school student have to test to go to the dance on Saturday?
District officials seem very concerned about families that are insisting restrictions be enforced at the dance, but the same concern doesn’t exist for the unvaccinated who we know have been targeted and persecuted nationwide. I call that discrimination.
This incident is just another example of how the Franklin schools don’t really care about the welfare of children. They long for control.