Independence teens taking virtual classes told they can’t attend homecoming dance

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Two Independence teens who are taking virtual classes are upset to find out they won’t get to attend homecoming this Saturday.

Van Horn High School’s policy clearly states that virtual students can’t attend the dance. However, Caitlyn and Alessandra Welsh have a unique circumstance: They enrolled and registered for in-person classes at the beginning of the year and had to switch.

They claim they never were told they couldn’t attend school dances — even though they can attend school sporting events.

The teens said they switched to virtual learning because of their grandmother.

“We found out her cancer was back,” junior Alessandra said. “Her doctor realized how much worse it had gotten.”

Like many high school teens, they were excited for the homecoming dance, especially Caitlin, who is a freshman and got asked to the dance by her boyfriend.

“I was very excited to go, and this is all of my first high school things,” she said.

But their excitement turned to disappointment when they found out they aren’t allowed to attend the dance because they’re virtual students.

“It’s heartbreaking as a mother to see your freshman child can’t experience anything in high school,” Stephanie Welsh said.

To add salt to the wound, there are other exceptions they don’t understand.

“We heard that other people from other schools could attend, so that kind of made me upset because I don’t know where they have been,” Caitlin said.

According to the Independence School District’s parent handbook, it says “students enrolled in full-time virtual learning are not eligible to participate in in-person activities or athletics.”

Stephanie said they just recently became aware of the district’s virtual handbook.

“We didn’t know; they didn’t tell us,” she said. “If we would have known, we would have pre-planned.”

However, the district’s spokesperson said the policy was given to everyone.

“During both the in-person and virtual registration process, parents and their students must acknowledge the receipt of this board policy,” the policy said.

While Caitlin won’t get to wear her dress to the dance, her family is planning to still make the night special for her.

“They’ve been keeping it a secret from me,” Caitlin said. “All I know is we are getting dressed up and taking pictures and doing a dinner.”

The school district said that the current virtual learning policy has been in place for the past two years.

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