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Precautions over traditions

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Homecoming celebrations have changed significantly in order to accommodate to COVID-19 precautions.

Crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice, shorter days, and Homecoming Spirit Week are all indicators that fall is here. Homecoming is a staple tradition that goes back years. However, COVID-19 has forced almost everything from sports to clubs to be revised, rescheduled, or even canceled, and Homecoming is no exception. 

In March when COVID-19 first hit, many were upset at the possibility of prom being postponed, and maybe even canceled all together. Almost seven months later, the persistent pandemic carries on. Even then, people and officials have begun to resume their normal lives to the best of their ability. 

Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key stated that Arkansas is aiming to keep schools open even with high levels of virus activity in the public during a press conference in August.

Homecoming at Rogers normally consists of a few essential things: A spirit week leads up to the court ceremony, which is attended by the entire school, even if packed like sardines, and the day ends with an early release to arrive at the homecoming parade. That night, everyone floods over to the football game, which is then finished off with the homecoming dance either after the game, or the next day. 

“[Homecoming is a] time to be able to hang out with my friends and enjoy a football game together and just be with each other,” Naa Engmann, 12, said.

Because of COVID-19, Homecoming has had to change significantly. Everything about Homecoming involves big crowds that would undoubtedly violate precautions. Under CDC guidelines, being in “close contact” is considered to be within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. When it comes to homecoming, a lot of the precautions being taken during the school day are nearly impossible to fulfill. 

“We’re not having homecoming in its traditional sense. It’s really a ceremony with no crowd, just family members spread out. No dance, no parade- we’ve gotten rid of any problem,” Natalie Olivieri, student council advisor, said.

Even with the reduced homecoming celebrations, there is still gratitude for what is being done.

“I think it’s nice that they’re trying to make it happen for the seniors. A lot of the people who are on the court this year haven’t been on court in the past,” Engmann said.

Like with anything else, students can not help but feel upset about the circumstances.

“We really can’t do any major events, so finding ways around that is quite disappointing,” Evan Taoui, 10, said.

However, many believe that being sad about missing out on something is preferable to being at greater risk. The pandemic is still relevant; it only makes sense that events continue to be adapted to best fit the unprecedented circumstances. Although it may be easy to slack on the recommended social distancing guidelines, there is absolutely no reason to put communities at more risk for an overall insignificant event. 

“I know that they are doing it to keep us safe, which is good because it means they’re putting our safety as their top priority. I still wish we could have that stuff, though,“ Engmann said.