SKOWHEGAN — Administrators in Maine School Administrative District 54 are exploring ways to safely host prom and other end-of-year activities for students at Skowhegan Area High School.

At a meeting Thursday night of the MSAD 54 board of directors, Principal Bruce Mochamer shared ideas he and other administrators have been considering.

“We’re coming to an end of the school year, and this is going to be so different than it was last year,” Mochamer said. “All of the senior end-of-year events, plus the underclassmen end-of-year events, we’re going to hold as normal.”

The list of events includes prom, Mochamer said, although a semiformal event is planned for this year, and it will probably not look like the typical four-hour proms of the past. Instead, the event would be at Skowhegan Area High School and be held in sessions, to allow for social distancing.

“We’re looking at doing a prom,” Mochamer said. “It’s probably going to be here on our site, and we have to follow criteria in terms of how many people can be in a space and social distancing.”

He said the school will also host assemblies. To abide by coronavirus restrictions, however, there will be multiple assemblies for each cohort of students.

Senior events, including scholarship night and academic awards and cord night with parents, are also in the works. Plans for graduation, meantime, are still being discussed, according to Superintendent Jon Moody, but no decisions have been reached while administrators await additional guidance from the Maine Department of Education.

The district, which enrolls students from Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield, held a smaller graduation ceremony last June, with students marching in groups of six to meet safety guidelines.

An update from Commissioner Pender Makin on the Department of Education’s website shows guidance for graduation and end-of-school-year ceremonies are “under construction with new maximum capacity information.”

Beginning Friday, the allowed attendance for indoor gatherings in Maine increased to 50% of capacity. On May 24, the limit is to jump to 75% of capacity.

For outdoor gatherings, allowed attendance increased Friday to 75% of capacity. On May 24, the limit is to jump to 100% of capacity.

State officials said protective masks and social distancing will continue to be required until further notice.

Moody said holding gatherings at the high school has led to conversations about events for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“There are opportunities for those grades as well,” Moody said.

In other matters, Moody updated the board on the recent closure at Marti Stevens Learning Center due to a positive case of COVID-19, which was reported to families last Tuesday.

A decision was made to revert to remote learning from last Wednesday until next Friday, with a plan to return to in-person learning Monday, April 5. Officials said 19 people at the facility at 195 W. Front St. were asked to quarantine due to the positive case.

“We had to go remote based on a recommendation (from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention),” Moody said. “They knew that might happen, so they were prepared. There have been no additional cases (of COVID-19), aside from that.”

As of Thursday, there had been 34 cases of COVID-19 in MSAD 54 during the 2020-21 school year, including 18 among students and 16 involving staff members.

There have been 18 cases among students or staff members who contracted the virus outside of school and were never inside school facilities while sick or contagious, and two cases among students from other districts who attend the Somerset Career & Technical Center.

Moody also provided an update on the upcoming spring sports season at Skowhegan Area Middle and High schools, including baseball, softball and track. He said full seasons are planned, including the opportunity to participate in playoffs.

Spectators will also be allowed and the athletic director is deciding how to implement social distancing guidelines at athletic events, according to Moody.

Protective masks will be required at all times for those attending events on school property, Moody said, and social-distancing guidelines must be maintained, except for those who live at the same dwelling.

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