HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A metro Atlanta mother who held a homecoming party of 250 students during the pandemic is under fire.
At the optional party -- which had no affiliation with the high school, most students did not wear masks or social distance.
Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes spoke to Beth Knight, who hosted the event and sold tickets. Knight has spoken to other media outlets and compared making kids wear masks to child abuse.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]
The homecoming celebration happened after an official school-sanctioned event two weeks ago at Ola High School. Knight defended her decision and said that no one got sick after the Nov. 14th event.
“My dance was 11 days ago,” Knight said in a statement. “None of these kids have tested positive for the virus. Adults signed waivers for their kids to attend. Kids who wanted to wear masks brought their own. We had hand sanitizer on every table. We had two police officers and 10 chaperones.”
She said people need to worry less about the party, and more about students’ mental health. She said she thought the even helped the kids enjoy life, which many of them haven’t been doing.
Fernandes talked to students who attended both events.
Holey Woods said the party after the official school event was great, and it was optional, so no one was forced to be there.
“I stayed for about an hour and a half,” Holey said. “There wasn’t a lot of social distancing going on, but there was enough space for everyone to be crowded around and spread out.”
Another student told Fernandes that none of the football players went to the party because they want to play in the playoffs.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
“No football players, as far as I know, went because, as seniors, they still want to be able to play,” Ben Gibbons said.
Gibbons is a senior captain on Ola’s cross-country team. He said he was invited to the after party, but didn’t go so that he can still run track. He also didn’t want to pass the virus to his mother.
“I didn’t want to risk it,” Gibbons said. “I have a mother with an auto-immune disorder, so I didn’t think it was necessary to risk.”
Student Chukwudumbbi Ejikeme said the party was selfish.
“Just because it’s not affecting you or you don’t, like, experience the symptoms, doesn’t mean that you’re not a carrier to other people who may experience the pandemic even worse,” Ejikeme said. “You have to think about that.”