MASON, Ohio — Graduations and proms in Ohio could be back in some form this semester, but they will look different with masking, social distancing and a few re-imagined traditions.
Mason City Schools, which has held in-person classes five days a week since August, has seen limited COVID-19 spread. So the district, with feedback from families, is planning to revive hallmarks of the high school experience.
"Last year, their spring sports seasons were canceled. They didn't get a junior prom,” said MCSD spokesperson Tracey Carson.
It won't be a full return; graduation is slated to take place at the Cintas Center, likely over multiple sessions. There will be no dancing at prom, but it's still something for students to look forward to during a year of cancellations and postponed events.
"What we have been doing all along in Mason is thinking about, ‘what can we do? What can we do for these kids to give them the senior year that they deserve?’” Carson said.
Governor Mike DeWine said if the numbers continue to trend in the right direction, small signs of a new normal -- from school gatherings to sporting events -- could re-emerge in the coming months.
"I think this mask is going to be able to allow us to do a lot of these things and I'm optimistic, frankly, about that,” DeWine said Thursday.
But the Ohio Department of Health's chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said, while the results of the vaccine are encouraging, more drastic steps could be a long way off.
"It's very important that we don't declare victory too quickly,” Vanderhoff said. “Make no mistake: vaccines are working very, very well, but our national vaccination effort needs more time.”
That’s time Mason City Schools is willing to take, while giving its students a chance at some of life's milestones.
"They know that there are bigger issues in the world, and yet we still need to acknowledge the things that they have lost and the things that we still can do,” Carson said.
Like districts across the state, Mason City Schools is monitoring case numbers and will follow state regulations and adapt if need be to minimize the potential for COVID-19 spread.