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An unsanctioned dance apparently put on by parents in a Fayette County school district earlier this month is raising concerns for school administrators who are worried the gathering of students could jeopardize in-person instruction.

Laurel Highlands District Superintendent Jesse Wallace said he knew little about the event except that it was supposedly held Nov. 13 at the Hopwood Social Hall.

Wallace was unsure how many of their students attended or if children from other school districts were also there.

“A group of private parents went out and promoted this dance unbeknownst to the district. We didn’t support it, we didn’t sell tickets for it. They did this all on their own and the students showed up,” Wallace said, likening it to a family throwing a private birthday party. “As far as the district, we didn’t recommend it. We actually moved against it. This was done on their own. It needs to be evaluated on that merit.”

A worker who answered the phone at the Hopwood Social Hall on Thursday could not confirm the event was held at its venue, and it was unknown who organized the gathering.

Wallace said it was especially disappointing considering the district canceled its annual fall dance this month due to surging COVID-19 cases in the region. Since the district is unable to get “concrete evidence” on the gathering, Wallace said it might eventually alter the district’s hybrid curriculum split between remote learning and in-person education if coronavirus cases among students in the district increase.

“I’m very concerned. To the contrary, we canceled the (district’s dance) event. We saw the danger,” Wallace said. “To have face-to-face classroom, we can’t have something like this. It flies in the face of what we’re trying to do.”

He thought the event was similar to one thrown Nov. 14 for students in the Plum School District in Allegheny County. That unsanctioned dance was also organized by parents, but the district was forced to have students who attended quarantine at home for two weeks after at least one child tested positive for COVID-19.

Wallace was unsure how the Laurel Highlands School District will respond, but that officials planned to closely monitor whether any students are infected with the coronavirus. The district includes students from North Union and South Union townships around Uniontown.

“We’re going through all this hard work, and to have something like this happen is very disheartening,” Wallace said. “It’s a mess.”

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