New York City public school students no longer have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend prom this year, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday.
“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,” Adams said in a statement about the policy change.
The announcement comes a day after The Post reported a group of City Council members had sent a letter to the Health Department blasting the exclusion of unvaccinated students from their proms.
“This is a positive step,” Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) said Monday. He was among the five Republicans and two Democrats who signed the letter.
“Allowing kids to participate in normal high school traditions are a big part of returning to normalcy — the prom is normal, and I’m glad that students will be able to have fun and awkward photos.”
City officials indicated that balancing COVID protocols with the students’ well-being was central to the updated policy.
“Vaccinations remain a lifesaving tool,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “But another critical resource for health is togetherness and celebration — for which these events are so critical in the lives of young people.”
City Hall noted in its prom announcement that students were previously told they were allowed to attend graduation ceremonies this year, even if they hadn’t gotten the jab.
Friends and family of graduates, however, will still need to be vaccinated if the ceremony is in a school building.
Vaccination requirements of a venue also supersede city policy — meaning attendees of proms or graduations held at a college or private location with an inoculation mandate will be held to those rules, sources said.
City Hall said students’ prom dates from outside the Department of Education can attend regardless of vaccination status, but a venue’s specific vaccination policy still applies to each individual.
Schools Chancellor David Banks had been hinting at lifting the vaccine requirement for prom-goers since late March, when he told parents on the Upper West Side that an announcement to that effect was coming in a matter of days.
But as COVID cases rose in the Big Apple, and the risk of its spread was raised from “low” to “medium” according to health department metrics, the rollback of pandemic-era policies slowed to a virtual standstill for most city dwellers, including toddlers required to wear masks.
“The health and safety of our students and staff is, and has been, my top priority,” said Banks. “Graduation and prom are such momentous occasions in the lives of our young people, which is why I am so excited that thanks to the hard work of our school communities, we have come to a point where we can safely take this next step.”