Breaking News: ASB postpones Winter Formal due to surges in omicron variant

Winter Formal will take place on Mar. 4 at the Fox Theater in Redwood City. As one of the more formal dances, Winter Formal is popular with students. “It’s one that a lot of students prefer in general because it’s open to the whole student population, whereas prom is only for upperclassmen,” said Katelyn Nightengale, ASB’s Dance Commission Facilitator.

USA-Redwood City-New Sequoia Theater Building / Eugene Zelenko / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Winter Formal will take place on Mar. 4 at the Fox Theater in Redwood City. As one of the more formal dances, Winter Formal is popular with students. “It’s one that a lot of students prefer in general because it’s open to the whole student population, whereas prom is only for upperclassmen,” said Katelyn Nightengale, ASB’s Dance Commission Facilitator.

*Updated on Jan. 14, 2022

After more than one week back to school from winter break, the Associated Student Body (ASB) postponed the annual Winter Formal to Friday, March 4, from 7-11 p.m. at the Fox Theater in Redwood City.

Carlmont’s administration made this decision in response to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the community. After confirming the new date and place, ASB announced this update on social media, notifying students to look out for more details coming soon.

“Winter Formal was postponed because of the spike in cases due to the omicron variant, and administration felt it wasn’t safe for the dance to happen,” said Katelyn Nightengale, a senior and facilitator of ASB’s Dance Commission. “[Our commission has] a really big role in planning the Winter Formal, but the administration is the one that decides what to do, especially when it comes to COVID-19 and student safety.”

According to the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) COVID-19 dashboard, Carlmont has had over 180 cases since school returned, with the district reaching 1050 total cases. The number of reported COVID-19 infections in the past two weeks is significantly higher than previous weeks during the first semester, much due to the appearance of the omicron variant.

“I think the Formal should’ve been postponed, and as much as that was a disappointing decision, I’m sure that it was for the better to track how COVID-19 cases progress over the coming weeks,” said Joshua Sobajic, a junior. “I do hope that the major school events, such as formal and prom, don’t get canceled out of incompetency and lack of precautions.”

Before postponing the dance, ASB planned to extend precautions Winter Formal, such as mandatory masks and vaccinations. Considerations are still being made for additional safety measures.

“I hope they make the event only eligible to those who are fully vaccinated, on top of asking for proof of a negative COVID-19 test,” said Charlotte Lopez, a junior. “From my knowledge, the venue is indoors, so I hope they leave the doors open for air and have secluded outdoor areas that people can hang around in. I’m concerned that people will not properly wear their masks indoors.”

Despite apprehensions about the omicron variant, Winter Formal will still be held at the Fox Theater, an indoor venue where all previous Winter Formals have taken place.

“One of the things that we were concerned about with postponing the dance was finding a venue because Fox Theater wasn’t available for any other Saturday in February or March,” Nightengale said. “There was a lot of consideration put into March 4, and we did a lot of research on other venues.”

Other locations presented issues with pricing, COVID-19 protocols, and the available size. Outdoor venues also proved to be too risky, as weather conditions such as rain and temperature could affect the dance.

Following the date change, ASB only had to make slight adjustments since much of the dance was already planned, such as contacting the DJ and other vendors to update them with the rescheduled time.

Winter Formal is the second of three school dances, originally planned to take place on Jan. 22. Open to all students, the dance is semi-formal, balancing the casual Homecoming Dance in October and the formal prom scheduled for April. 

“What makes the dance so special is just the formalness of the evening; as amazing and fun as Homecoming is, I’ve heard a lot of feedback from students that they love being at another venue, like Fox Theater. Especially now because of COVID-19, there are not a lot of opportunities to dress up and have fun,” Nightengale said.

These chances to attend a dance are valuable for upperclassmen who already lost a few years of high school events to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel like I have already missed out on plenty of school events in sophomore and freshman year,” Sobajic said. “I don’t want any further events to be taken away from me due to the lack of initiative displayed by the student body and Carlmont’s administration.”

Lopez expressed a similar sentiment.

“I now realize how short the high school experience is, and I want to attend as many events as I can because we missed two years of high school with COVID-19 and online classes,” Lopez said. “I don’t want to regret not going to these events in the future since there is a great deal of uncertainty and worry about COVID-19, and you never know if and when things will shut down again.”

Now scheduled for March, questions will continue to emerge as the student body awaits to see updates of the variant.

“With COVID-19, you never know what’s going to happen; I don’t think anybody expected a new variant to emerge to be so extensive and blow up so much in our area,” Nightengale said. “We’re planning for the March 4 date, but if COVID-19 cases do fluctuate, and if it’s not safe for students to be at a dance, then I could see the possibility of it getting pushed farther.”