School dance chaperones are known for making teens keep their distance, but people won’t have to stay 6 feet away from one another Saturday at the Manhattan High School Prom.

But they will have to wear a mask.

“We’re basically going to move ahead cautiously, but as normal as possible,” said Larry Myers, assistant principal and activities director.

After a year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, students will attend prom at Manhattan Town Center at 9 p.m. The promenade begins at 8:45 p.m. Parents and spectators can watch it from bleachers.

Although students are free to dance with each other, people must wear masks at all times unless while eating or drinking; the school will provide pre-packaged snacks and drinks to students.

“We’ll manage things, just like we would normally,” Myers said. “We’ll keep things appropriate as far as contact.”

Riley County Health Department Director Julie Gibbs gave the green light for prom earlier this semester. The school district and health department felt like the county was going in the right direction with the rate of coronavirus cases declining.

For the past 11 weeks, the county’s rate of positive tests has stayed below 5%. Myers added Thursday the high school hasn’t seen any new cases or people quarantining for the last two to three weeks.

“That’s what allowed us to go ahead with prom,” he said.

Myers said the high school is expecting a “decent number” of students. Fifty chaperones will supervise the event. If students decide to leave the event, they cannot come back, which is a regular school policy, Myers said. There are no school-sponsored after-prom events.

He said Manhattan High School was one of the first schools in the area to make the decision to go ahead with prom. Washburn Rural High School contacted MHS for prom planning advice, Myers said.