The party must go on for Bronx prom-goers

Despite mayor decision to drop vaccine mandate, COVID cases are on rise



While under the stress of completing their Regents, final exams and mentally preparing for college, high school seniors can now attend prom without a worry.

That’s because Mayor Eric Adams announced May 9 he was lifting COVID-19 vaccination mandates for school events, such as graduations and proms.

The one catch for seniors is that they have been told they should wear masks to prom to prevent catching the virus. In some cases, the prom venue may require masks be worn.

Amaris Cockfield, a deputy press secretary for Mayor Adams, strongly recommends students wear high quality masks while attending prom. These “high-quality” masks are not blue surgical masks. They are N95 or KN95, according to the Department of Education.

However, principal Pierre Orbe of DeWitt Clinton High School told The Riverdale Press that wearing masks to prom would be pretty weird.

“You’re getting all decked out for an event that is the belle of the ball, and you’re going to be wearing a mask over your face, no one was excited about that,” Orbe said.

Ironically, the prom theme is a masquerade, and the mask will be worn slightly higher than the traditional surgical mask worn by people across the world.

Initially, only 50 individuals signed up for the DeWitt Clinton prom but now they reached 100. They are trying to get above 150.

Orbe believes the more students who sign up will attract other seniors to do the same for the event on May 23 in Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle.

Some Bronx students received a surprise when on May 13, Darcel Clark, Bronx district attorney as part Bronx Fashion Week hosted “Prom Shop.” Around 400 elegant dresses and suits were donated by the DA’s office staff and the Bronx community.

Students picked out their dream outfits in the basement of Promised Land Covenant Church on Third Avenue in Morrisania, a nearby neighborhood of Yankee Stadium.

“Many Bronx high school seniors are going to be able to celebrate their big night in style, without the worry of purchasing an outfit,” Clark said in a press release the day before the event.

Dresses of different colors, styles, sizes and length were hung on clothing racks and a large table of shoes were displayed for seniors to pick from.

Since the prom announcement, positive COVID-19 cases have risen more than 8,000 in New York City. Hospitalizations and deaths remain low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Vaccinations got us to where we are today, so I want to thank the millions of New Yorkers who went out and got vaccinated, doing their part to keep our city safe,” Adams said in a statement. “I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet gotten vaccinated to do so, and to all of our students, congratulations!”

Regardless of vaccination status, students can attend their graduation this year as well. However, guests must show proof of vaccination.

Chancellor of the New York City Department of  Education David Banks has worked with the mayor to make this decision for students. He said in a press conference that prom and graduation are the most monumental moments in young adults’ lives.

“The health and safety of our students and staff  is, and has been, my top priority,” the chancellor said.

Within the city health department updates, at least 64 percent of Bronx residents from ages 5 to 17 received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The education department provides all students with four test kits and is recommended to take one test 24 hours before the big event and another five days after.

However, despite the exciting news about the vaccine mandate drop, the education department sends an additional reminder that if a private venue requires proof of vaccination, participants must show proof.

Orbe did not confirm with The Press if Glen Island Harbour Club requires proof of vaccinations.