TYLER, Texas — Parents at Tyler Legacy are hosting a winter ball for the Southern Belles drill team Saturday night.
The event is not sponsored by the school because they say it goes against their health and safety guidelines.
Usually, Tyler Legacy High School hosts a large event called the Belles' Ball. It serves as a fundraiser for Tyler Legacy's drill team. Normally, the entire school is invited but this year, school officials decided to scale back to ensure the safety of the students and staff due to potential exposure to COVID-19.
CBS19 was informed some parents on the booster club felt a small banquet was not enough of a celebration, so they reserved another room at Hollytree Country Club for a dance. After this, the school pulled out of the event because parents refused to adhere to health and safety guidelines put down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
CBS19 reached out to Tyler Legacy administration and principal Dr. Dan Crawford, and they sent the following statement regarding the unsanctioned dance:
"Normally this weekend, we traditionally hold the “Belles' Ball,” but this year due to the COVID Pandemic, our Southern Belles sponsors, along with Booster Club parents, planned a Senior/Officer Banquet to honor our young ladies. Unfortunately, a group of parents went against my recommendation and planned a “Mardi Gras Winter Gala” at the same venue immediately following the banquet. For this reason, taking into account the health and safety of all of our students, we are no longer holding the banquet and will not take part in the banquet or dance, in any way shape, or form. Tyler Legacy is not responsible for the actions of parents off campus."
CBS19's Marangeli Lopez spoke to the event organizer, the mom of a senior on the drill team who said the parents are "taking precautions" to ensure the winter gala does not become a super spreader event. The event organizer is the mother of a senior on the drill team. She did not want her name to be used for publication.
CBS19's Marangeli Lopez: "Do you feel that it's responsible to still host this event, even though health professionals are saying, "don't host large events?"
Event organizer: "I feel like it's OK as long as everyone is aware you're coming at your own risk. I'm trying to do something good for these kids make them feel special, make this happy moment for them in case everything else gets shut down."
More than 40 students are expected to attend the event. However, that number does not include parents.
According to the CDC's recommendations for gatherings, there are four different categories of exposure ranging from low risk to higher risk.
The unofficial "Belles' Ball" dubbed the "Mardi Gras Winter Gala" would be considered a low-risk indoor gathering if students stay six feet apart, wear masks, and do not share items. However, at this event masks, are optional.
CBS19's Marangeli Lopez: "Are masks going to be required at the event or anything like that?"
Event Organizer: "No, but if they feel compelled to wear one they totally can."
According to Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order on masks, Texans are required to wear a face-covering in public spaces in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases. Smith County currently has 2,716 active cases, but the Hollytree Country Club is considered a private space.
"We should, as individuals, make the choices to wear a mask, avoid large crowds, keep our distance, wash our hands often, and stay home if we feel sick. by doing this, we can reduce the spread of covid-19, protect our community, and regain additional liberties and opportunities for ourselves and our businesses," Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said in a previous statement.
The mother organizing the event said everyone will be required to sign a COVID-19 waiver saying they realize the risks associated with the event and they will be doing temperature checks at the door.
However, you don't have to have a fever to have COVID-19.
CBS19's Marangeli Lopez: "How would you feel if someone were to get sick at this event?"
Event Organizer: "Well I would feel terrible but we are taking the precautions on the front end. We are doing everything we can, but again they are coming at their own risks."
CBS19 reached out to the Northeast Texas Public Health District to learn more about their recommendations are for an event like the Mardi Gras Winter Gala. We will update this article with their statement when we receive it.