By Marisa Dellatto

AHS’ new dance policy mandates that every student take a breathalyzer test before being admitted. Photo by Rosanna Wang.

The dance policy — and the way that policy is enforced — has changed at Andover High School to ensure safety to all students.

The biggest change: breathalyzers. This is a new way of making sure that all students are safe. Administrators plan to breathalyze every attendee. This is due to a new requirement by the district, according to Andover Vice Principal Dr. Luz Valverde.

Present policemen, teachers and chaperones will be trained prior to the dance in using breathalyzers, stated Valverde. A dance will not be held until the school can obtain enough breathalyzers to test every attendee and all participating staff are properly trained. School staff and representatives are currently working towards solving this problem to get dances going again.

“We have to assume the worst,” said a sighing Valverde.  “If 800 kids show up, what happens if they have all been drinking? We have to be prepared.”

There will be no restrictions on the dancing style. According to the school handbook, “students can dance as physically close as they want to with their partner as long as both parties choose to dance in this style.”

All students will be held accountable to the handbook, said Valverde.

As long as all the parties involved are comfortable with the style of dancing, there will not be a problem. As always, students must remain appropriate and use their judgment. If a student feels uncomfortable or a chaperone sees there is a problem at hand, the student causing such problem “will be discreetly told to make the necessary changes so that they are appropriate,” according to the handbook. Students with further questions should consult the handbook.

Dance organization will also be changing. Last year’s policy lacked structure and “need[ed] guidance,” said Dr. Christopher Lord, the school’s new principal.

Tickets will be sold a week prior to the dance, to guarantee the event will breakeven and the DJ can be paid for, according to Lord. As usual, tickets will be numbered and recorded alongside the student name. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and close by 8 p.m. But this year, if a student does not show up who is scheduled to attend, a “courtesy call” will be made home to the student’s parents, says Lord. Doors will re-open at 10 p.m., and all students must leave by 10:30 p.m. The group running the dance will clean up until 11 p.m.

There will also be an increase in chaperones. Compared to the usual single officer, three other policemen will be present, including the school’s recourse officer, Jason Dowd. Lord is also aiming for a student-to-chaperone ratio of “15 to 1.” Chaperones may be teachers or volunteer parents.

“Andover’s not a city like Boston; [dances are] the only thing you have,” said Valverde. “We have to provide a way for students to have fun without bending the rules.”