Rural Idaho parents plan private prom despite pandemic

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A rural Idaho high school isn’t hosting a prom this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so a group of parents planned to throw their own — promoting it with the tagline, “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.” But after getting calls from the school district and a local news organization, one organizer won’t say if the event is still set for next month.

Chanall Astle, the parent of a Melba Junior-Senior High School student and one of the organizers, told the Idaho Statesman that the tagline was in reference to “The Great Gatsby,” which is the theme of the event. (The line does not make an appearance in “The Great Gatsby” novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it is the title of a song sung by Fergie and featured in the 2013 film adaptation of the movie).

Astle removed the prom flier from Facebook after she said she got a call from school district officials. She wouldn’t say whether the event was still scheduled to take place.

“It’s hard enough to give our kids some enjoyment this year and let them have a little fun,” Astle said. “It’s really disappointing as a parent when you try to do a good thing, but people turn it into a bad thing.”

It’s unclear if the prom, scheduled for April 17 in the city of Nampa, would violate any local or state COVID-19 restrictions. The town of Melba has just about 575 residents, but there are roughly 800 students who attend the school. The state is currently in stage 3 of Gov. Brad Little’s “Stay Healthy” plan, which says gatherings should be limited to no more than 50 people. The area is not under any mask orders.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports that more than 174,000 Idaho residents have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic began a year ago. More than 1,900 have died, including at least 14 deaths since the start of the month.

Public health officials in several states have reported coronavirus outbreaks traced to large parties and weddings over the past year.