Citing the continuing COVID-19 restrictions on venue usage and physical distancing and a priority to focus on planning graduation exercises and other celebrations for seniors, Anne Arundel County Public Schools will not hold traditional high school proms this spring, Superintendent George Arlotto announced today.
“We had certainly hoped that as our state continues to climb out of this pandemic that we would be in a position to provide this opportunity for our high school students,” Dr. Arlotto said. “However, we are regrettably forced by deposit payment deadlines to make a decision at this point and we see little that leads us to believe the restrictions will be lifted to an extent in the near future where we could hold proms in a way that would be meaningful and fun for all students who want to attend. I don’t want to go so far down this road that schools and families of students lose money on an event that, in the end, doesn’t happen.”
A stipulation in Governor Larry Hogan’s latest executive order calls for entertainment venues to operate at no more than 50 percent capacity, and guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stipulate that high school students should maintain 6 feet of physical distance and be masked when in each other’s company to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Arlotto said high school principals explored many different options as they tried to come up with a plan to conduct proms safely while remaining in compliance with all applicable Department of Health requirements.
“As we reopen schools, we are focused on trying to do as much for our students as we can, especially in terms of high school and, particularly, senior activities,” Dr. Arlotto said. “We looked at things like splitting proms into multiple sessions and limiting attendance to just seniors. Those don’t create a fun or enjoyable atmosphere for anyone.”
Dr. Arlotto made clear he and school system leaders continue to meet with high school principals and students about options regarding graduation ceremonies.
“I remain committed to doing everything we can to hold a meaningful, in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021,” he said. “We are continuing to discuss a variety of options in that regard.”