Many schools canceled prom last year due to COVID-19 concerns — but as cases decrease, students won't have to miss out on the traditional milestone dance this year.
All Cole County high schools are planning proms this year, with precautions in place.
Jefferson City High School and Capital City High School — which didn't have prom last year — will each have an outdoor prom May 1 with a make-up date of May 8 in case of inclement weather.
JCHS's prom will be at Adkins Stadium, and CCHS's prom will be at the school. CCHS officials are still determining the exact location.
Students will have their temperatures taken before entering, masks will be required, and hand sanitizer will be available, JC Schools Communications Director Ryan Burns said.
Last year around the time of prom, schools were closed for the remainder of the year at the order of Gov. Mike Parson, and there was a statewide stay-at-home order through April.
"The more we have learned about COVID-19 and the ability to safely gather if the right COVID-19 precautions and public health measures are in place, the more creative we have become," Burns said. "Our students are very much in the habit of following COVID-19 precautions during the school day, so prom will be a natural extension of some of those same precautions."
Blair Oaks High School's prom is 8-11 p.m. Saturday at Timber Ridge Barn in Jefferson City. Masks will be required when students aren't social distancing, said Corey Felten, Blair Oaks High School's assistant principal and activities director.
It will be similar to last year's prom, which went well and didn't cause any COVID-19 cases or quarantines, Felten said.
Helias Catholic High School's prom is April 24 on the Helias tennis courts with a make-up date of April 25 in case of inclement weather.
Masks will be required. A prom coordinator is planning other precautions to implement, such as separating drinks and snacks from the dance area, Communications Director Sandy Hentges said.
Helias' prom was canceled last year, but school officials decided to have it this year because the COVID-19 infection rate is down and the school's other outdoor events — such as sporting events — have been successful, Hentges said.
"We feel like since it's outside, since the rate of infection is down and we have been having other events, that we probably could go ahead and have prom as well," she said.
Helias officials will notify residents of the nearby neighborhood beforehand that music will play on the tennis field, Hentges said.
Lighthouse Preparatory Academy's prom is 7-11 p.m. May 1 at Canterbury Hill Winery, which includes an outdoor and indoor area.
Administrator Karen Crawford said school officials decided to have prom this year because they felt they could do it safely, as the venue will offer enough room for students to spread out.
"We have tried to do different strategies over the school year to prevent COVID spread, and we feel like we've been successful in doing that," Crawford said. "We wanted students to have this opportunity. It's something they look forward to."
Cole R-1 (Russellville) High School's prom is April 24 at Wasserlauf Valley, an outdoor venue in Russellville. Social distancing and masks will be encouraged, and hand sanitizer will be available.
Gorrell said last year's prom went well, especially because most students stayed in small groups throughout the event, minimizing contact.
This year's prom will be similar to last year's, except meals will be served at the event as an additional COVID-19 precaution, Superintendent Perry Gorrell said.
"Typically, our kids go out and eat meals at different places," he said. "Our plan currently is to have the meals there so we can keep them in smaller, more controlled groups."
Cole R-5 (Eugene) High School's prom is 7 p.m. April 24, according to the district's website.
Calvary Lutheran High School's prom is 6-10 p.m. Friday at The Branch in Lohman for juniors and seniors, followed by "Project Prom" for the entire student body, according to a Calvary newsletter.
The News Tribune attempted to reach Cole R-5 and Calvary Lutheran High School officials, but did not receive a response.