Prom, graduation season will look different again

“As much as we feel like things are improving, there’s still a lot of virus out there."
Photo credit Getty Images

As prom and end-of-school-year celebration season rolls around the weather improves, officials are urging folks to be thoughtful about how they gather. Health guidance means more adjustments for the Class of 2021 in an already challenging year.

The class of 2020 lost out on typical markers of adolescence like prom and graduation. MDH is recommending districts, as well as parents and students, take precautions this year, too, at school sponsored events and ones off campus.

“As much as we feel like things are improving, there’s still a lot of virus out there,” Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “These kinds of events are just ripe for spread unless people are aware of and training serious some of those precautions.”

State Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann said masking, creating a separate area for eating, as well as enough space to spread out will help.

“Any gatherings of unvaccinated people can be a risk,” Ehresmann said. “That risk goes up if the gathering is indoors and the people at the event are not masked or socially distanced. The risk goes up even higher if the people are not feeling well and still attend or if they were recently exposed and still attend. To end this pandemic we need everyone to do their part, even when it’s hard.”

Meanwhile, MDH reported 22 cases related to the protests in Brooklyn Center, 11 each amongst law enforcement and demonstrators. People who were present should get tested now, and if they were near a known exposure, quarantine.

“Outdoors is safer than indoors but it’s not 100% safe,” Ehresmann said. “Masking and social distancing still have protective value, especially if you are in a tightly-packed group and around many people.”

The strands have not yet been genetically sequenced but it’s not the first time cases have sprung from outdoor events, including fall campaign rallies.

MDH Thursday reported 1,921 positive cases and 15 additional deaths related to COVID-19. A total of 7,128 Minnesotans have died from COVID-19 complications. Fifty-seven percent of vaccine eligible Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.