Police have charged a Massachusetts high school student and the youth's parents with allegedly hosting a house party with underage drinking, a gathering that led the town's high school to delay in-person classes by two weeks amid coronavirus concerns.
The family members, who live in Sudbury, were charged under the state's "social host" law, which penalizes anyone "who is in control of the premises and who furnishes alcohol or allows it to be consumed [by underage people] on those premises," with fines of up to $2,000, up to a year of imprisonment or both.
The party was held late Sept. 11 at a private residence where police say they broke up a gathering of at least 50 students thought to be underage and from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. There were no masks, and attendees did not appear to be practicing social distancing, police said.
The town's health board released a statement saying that there were "no known positive COVID cases involving these students at the time of this release." However, the town was not able to consult with the attendees of the party — many of them unknown — and therefore couldn't accurately assess the risk.
"As a result, the Board of Health and Lincoln Sudbury Regional School High School (LSRHS), in consultation with the school physician, collectively decided to delay in-person learning," the statement reads.
The high school was originally to begin in-person classes on Sept. 15 but will now keep students out of classrooms for at least two weeks. The health board is recommending that the partygoers be tested for the coronavirus and notify the town's health board and the school health office if they become symptomatic.
"These criminal charges are not unique to our town. The 'Social Host Law' is often charged when a department identifies gatherings allowing underage alcohol consumption," the Sudbury Police Department wrote in a Facebook post about the incident.
Last week in Attleboro, Mass., nearly 30 students were required to quarantine after possibly being exposed to the coronavirus after a high schooler was sent to classes even though the teen tested positive days earlier.
Other Massachusetts high schools have delayed in-person classes because students attended parties in Dedham, Reading and the Dover-Sherborn area.