Education Notes: COVID-19 Protocols Thwart Plans for Prom Dances

Schools prepare for commencement 

Social distancing and high school dances don’t go together.

That was the word recently from Gibraltar School Board member Angela Sherman, who expressed regret that the board must prevent two more activities for students this year: a formal prom and a Homecoming dance during the COVID-19-delayed football season.

Board President Stephen Seyfer said if the board were to approve a prom dance with no way to guarantee social-distancing protocols, the board would knowingly be turning a “blind eye” to a school-sponsored event where it could not, and would not, guarantee protocols.

Board members challenged senior class adviser Sarah Stringer and activities director Peggy Tanck, along with students, to come up with safe Homecoming- and prom-themed activities for the end of the school year. They suggested that a larger, combined prom court and Homecoming court might be the answer.

Tanck said there would not be a dance, but she proposed having themed spirit days each day of Homecoming week and other activities.

Elsewhere, Sturgeon Bay High School chose a prom court, but it won’t have a prom. Sevastopol High School will have a “prom activity” April 24 but will not allow students to take guests who do not attend the school, said Superintendent Kyle Luedtke. The dinner and show will be for Sevastopol juniors and seniors only.

Graduation Strategies Formulated

High schools nationwide took different approaches to graduation ceremonies last spring, including delaying drive-through or drive-in-theater-style graduation events until the summer. After months of experience dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, school boards and administrators have had more time this year than they did last year to plan somewhat-normal graduation ceremonies for this spring.

Washington Island School had just two graduates last year, and it tried to delay ceremonies until social gatherings were deemed safe. Instead, the graduates went to the school, had their photos taken and received their diplomas, said district business administrator Sue Cornell. As of late March, graduation plans had not been finalized for Washington Island’s six graduates this year.

Commencement for 46 Sevastopol students will take place in the grade school gym, with spectators limited to six family members, seated in groups with spaces between the groups, Luedtke said.

Southern Door’s graduation will be by invitation only. Similarly, each Sturgeon Bay High School graduating senior will receive two tickets for family members only to attend the graduation ceremony, to be held in the gym May 29, 10 am.

Gibraltar’s school board assigned Principal Gereon Methner to determine how to make seating arrangements. Spectators would be limited if the high school graduation took place in Door Community Auditorium. Board member Mark Weborg spoke in favor of using the auditorium, but other board members said they prefer a ceremony at the football field, where many more spectators – still limited to family members – could attend while practicing social distancing.

Sevastopol to Host Homecoming Games

Gibraltar High School was scheduled to host Sturgeon Bay for Homecoming on April 16, but the game won’t take place in Fish Creek. Instead, eight-player football squads will square off at Sevastopol. 

Gibraltar recently invested in major improvements to its stadium, and Athletic Director Peggy Tanck noted that if it hosted football games this spring, the field would not recover in time for fall 2021 football.

Sevastopol is preparing to replace its field and track later this spring. Sevastopol’s field has an improper crown, drains poorly and will be rebuilt, Sevastopol Superintendent Kyle Luedtke said. Because the field will be torn up, Tanck said Sevastopol school leaders were willing to allow Gibraltar games to further the wear and tear on the field.

In return, as late-spring sports begin, Gibraltar will welcome Sevastopol track and field teams to use its facilities for practice. Sevastopol has only a six-lane track and does not host high school track meets. Luedtke said he’s not sure whether Sevastopol’s gridiron will recover from repairs in time for fall football.