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Parents warned against throwing pseudo-prom parties amid COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (March 30, 2020) – The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the every day lives of Americans from coast to coast. Many people have had to cancel weddings, vacations, and other large gatherings to comply with local shelter in place orders.

One group of people who have been seriously impacted by COVID-19 restrictions is high school students. Local schools are canceling dances, field trips, sports tournaments, band concerts and assemblies to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With several school districts being closed indefinitely, some students are worried they might not get to take part in major milestones, such as prom and graduation ceremonies.

Many parents want their child to experience these life events, and therefore may be considering allowing their teens to throw “pseudo prom parties at their homes.” While this type of party would offer teens some semblance of a prom, parents and guardians should know they could find themselves in serious legal trouble if they allow any drinking to occur on their watch. In addition, these parties would violate any shelter in place orders that have not yet been lifted.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard is warning parents against hosting pseudo-prom or graduation parties at their homes, as Illinois’ Social Host Law states that any adult who knowingly allows underage drinking or provides alcohol to minors could face jail time or be sued in civil court for financial damages. If the illegal, underage drinking results in injury or death, the adult could be charged with a Class 4 felony.

It should be noted that there are still a wide range of circumstances that could impact whether parents are held responsible under the law. For example, a person may not be liable if they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent underage drinking from occurring in their home.

However, while not completely the same as getting dressed up for the big dance, there are still many alternatives for parents to offer their teens in place of going to prom, such as:

  1. Throwing a “prom” with just your immediate family where everyone dresses up, takes photos and has a dance party.
  2. Wearing your prom dress or suit for a Facetime prom with friends
  3. Have a photo shoot of yourself in your prom outfit in your own backyard so you can still show off your outfit.
  4. Plan a belated prom-themed graduation party (sans alcohol) where everyone gets together in their prom dresses or suits before going off to college.

Salvi Schostok & Pritchard Attorney Brian L. Salvi is available to remind parents to keep their teens healthy and not allow large gatherings of students amid the coronavirus scare, and to discuss important legal reminders for parents who may be considering allowing their students to throw a pseudo prom party at their homes. Please contact Marcie Mangan at (312) 372-1227 or to set up an interview.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard believes this is an important issue that parents and teens should be aware of as they navigate this uncertain prom season.


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