The Adams administration has lifted the vaccine requirement for New York City public school students to attend prom.
“I am thrilled that, starting this year, every one of our young people will have the chance to celebrate all of their hard work with a prom and graduation, regardless of vaccination status,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a press release announcing the decision.
“I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet gotten vaccinated to do so,” he added.
The education department had previously said it would require proof of vaccination in order for students to attend the milestone event.
Officials do recommend students wear a high quality mask to prom. Private venues can still require all participants to be vaccinated, and guests other than public school students must have their shots.
The news comes as COVID-19 cases have been rising in schools again. According to the most recent data from the education department, there were 2,581 new cases reported among students and staff on Monday alone. Across the city, cases are also rising and the Department of Health raised the COVID alert level from low to medium last week.
Acknowledging the increase in cases, the education department announced earlier this month that schools would be sending home four test kits per pupil every week: two to be used by the student, and two by family members.
But as prom season approached, some local lawmakers began lobbying education officials to drop the vaccine mandate for the milestone celebrations. Along with five other state and city lawmakers, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis sent a letter to Schools Chancellor David Banks last month asking him to reverse the vaccination requirement for prom. The New York Post reported that a group of City Council members sent another letter urging the same last weekend.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, said the decision “makes sense as it is consistent with protocols in place during the school day.”
Students do not need to be vaccinated to attend school, although they must be vaccinated to play after-school sports and participate in certain other extracurriculars.
There is a requirement for all school staff to be vaccinated. That vaccine mandate for educators, like all city workers, has withstood multiple court challenges and the Adams administration has kept it in place even as it has lifted the requirement for certain performers and athletes.
While Adams has kept most of the de Blasio administration’s vaccine requirements in place, he has also encouraged New Yorkers to embrace a greater sense of normalcy. He lifted the mask mandate for K-12 schools in early March.
In the announcement this week, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said caution is crucial, but so is celebration.
“Vaccinations remain a lifesaving tool,” he said. “Masks worn indoors continue to reduce risk of transmission. But another critical resource for health is togetherness and celebration — for which these events are so critical in the lives of young people.”