Coronavirus

Mass. officials urge schools to skip prom this spring

"Prom is an inherently high-risk activity, as it is a social gathering that involves dancing and singing (both of which are activities with increased respiration)."

A tuxedo and dress are displayed at a Bridal shop in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Friday, April 24, 2020. Bridal, prom dress shops saw a drop in business after the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) Nam Y. Huh / AP, File

State officials are urging schools in Massachusetts to skip prom for the second spring in a row because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Updated guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education last week describes the end-of-year dance as “an inherently high-risk activity, as it is a social gathering that involves dancing and singing (both of which are activities with increased respiration).” It “strongly recommends” that schools do not hold proms and “instead substitute alternative celebrations for seniors.”

The guidance adds that schools that choose to hold proms should wait until after the end of the school year, when more students might be vaccinated. Schools that hold proms must follow existing guidelines on events, including mandatory masking, social distancing, and capacity limits. Current guidelines limit events to 100 attendants indoors and 150 outdoors.

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801 new COVID-19 cases among students and 244 cases among staff were reported in Massachusetts schools between March 25 and March 31, according to data from the department. The data includes public school districts, charter schools, and collaboratives, but not private schools. Cases among students rose 57% over the previous month.

Most elementary school students returned to school Monday, and middle schoolers will return April 28. The date for high schoolers to return has not yet been announced.

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