ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — High schoolers in Anne Arundel County will not get the tradition of a senior prom this year, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools announced Thursday the restrictions on venues and physical distancing will not allow traditional high school proms for the Class of 2021.

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“We had certainly hoped that as our state continues to climb out of this pandemic that we would be in a position to provide this opportunity for our high school students,” Superintendent Dr. Arlotto said. “However, we are regrettably forced by deposit payment deadlines to make a decision at this point and we see little that leads us to believe the restrictions will be lifted to an extent in the near future where we could hold proms in a way that would be meaningful and fun for all students who want to attend. I don’t want to go so far down this road that schools and families of students lose money on an event that, in the end, doesn’t happen.”

They cite Gov. Larry Hogan’s latest executive order calling for entertainment venues to operate at no more than 50% capacity, as well as CDC guidelines that high school students should maintain six feet apart and be masked around each other.

Dr. Arlotto said high school principals had explored “many different options” for a safe prom experience while still following health department guidelines.

“As we reopen schools, we are focused on trying to do as much for our students as we can, especially in terms of high school and, particularly, senior activities,” Dr. Arlotto said. “We looked at things like splitting proms into multiple sessions and limiting attendance to just seniors. Those don’t create a fun or enjoyable atmosphere for anyone.”

For the second year in a row, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties have announced prom is cancelled.

Baltimore City and Howard County have yet to make a final decision.

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In a statement to WJZ, Baltimore County officials said they were unable to ensure proper mitigation would be followed at venues where a prom might be held.

They’re suggesting, instead, students look into holding a campus-based outdoor event.

Harford County officials pulled the plug on school dances, proms, and field trips earlier this month.

“That’s horrible for the kids,” Joe Helmick, of Anne Arundel County, said.

“These kids have waited forever for these proms and they’re important to them,” Patti Caropreso, of Anne Arundel County, told WJZ.

The superintendent of Anne Arundel County Schools said they are still working on options for graduation ceremonies.

“I remain committed to doing everything we can to hold a meaningful, in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021,” he said. “We are continuing to discuss a variety of options in that regard.”

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner