Erindale College students have been looking forward to dancing the night away at their year 12 formal as a final release after two years of COVID disruption.
But a group of students nearly didn't make it because of an exposure in their exams on Tuesday.
About 115 students from years 10 to 12 were told on Thursday they were close contacts of a positive case.
Kim Shoard and Ashlee Bryant said tears flowed as they realised they would be in quarantine for seven days from the exposure, meaning they would miss out on Monday's formal at the National Arboretum.
The students and their parents tried desperately to apply for a quarantine exemption so they could attend the event.
On Friday night, the news came through that ACT Health had reassessed the exposure risk and reclassified 90 students as casual contacts.
But 25 students need to stay in quarantine, including a number from year 12.
"In a year that has had so much disruption, especially for students, we acknowledge how hard this quarantine is on year 12 students at the end of their school year," an ACT government spokesperson said.
"Erindale College is supporting those students who are still required to quarantine and working with them to consider other ways to celebrate the end of their school year."
Kim and Ashlee were chatting on FaceTime when they heard that they had been reclassified as casual contacts.
"We were jumping around and everything. It was just good news to hear," Ashlee said.
The friends were spending Saturday preparing together and deciding on how they would have their hair and make-up done.
"I'll probably try and go for like, a full glam look, because that's sort of me," Kim said.
"Ash will probably go for natural because she's not into make-up that much."
The school formal was even more important this year after so many social events, excursions and extra-curricular activities were cancelled because of the pandemic.
Kim missed out on competing in horse riding while Ashlee wasn't able to play the in usual basketball competitions.
"COVID is something that we've just kind of grown to be used to having around," Kim said.
"But it's kind of pushed us to be more academic because we haven't had the chances to go out and we haven't had competitions."
After graduation, Kim intends to keep working as a track rider, as she does in the early mornings six days a week, and is currently exploring ways to get into equine dentistry.
Ashlee wants to take a gap year, working in two retail jobs, with the aim to travel to Thailand to visit family members.
The formal is one of the last times the cohort will be together, besides the graduation ceremony in December.
"I'm just happy to be celebrating with some people that I've known since high school," Kim said.
"I was excited to actually have a fun night with them, dance and sing with all of them, and congratulate each one of them for getting through this. It has been tough."
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