Promposal: Are You Vaccinated?

by Briana Almonte

Prom is a high school rite of passage—but this year being vaccinated is top of mind among students.

Every high school student in America knows what prom is, for many, an essential teenage experience. It’s a day which many students wait years for — a day when they have their last hurrah among their friends and peers. As expected, there have always been the factors of getting the outfit of your dreams, buying a ticket to prom, and getting your hair and makeup done if you choose.

But this year a new element has been introduced: Being vaccinated against Covid-19. 

In a recent email sent to the seniors at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), Mr. Frankel, the principal, mentioned end of the year information, senior dues, and an included sentence that could change the trajectory of some NYC seniors’ high school experience forever.  

“All students and guests attending Prom must be vaccinated per DOE policy,” the email stated. 

More than half of NYC public school students are fully vaccinated and at FSSA specifically, 89.7 percent of students have at least gotten their first does, while 86.1 percent of students are fully vaccinated according to Chalkbeat New York as of March 30, 2022. Therefore, for most senior students at FSSA, vaccination would not be a factor that would change any plans they might have had for prom, but when students were asked about this matter, there were mixed opinions. 

In a questionnaire regarding Prom vaccination received by 231 seniors at FSSA, 109 responded, and 29 students stated that they did not know that they had to be vaccinated per DOE policy. According to the data, 80 students were aware of the vaccination requirement.

Brandon Bosch, a senior vocal major, expressed how although many students were made aware by the email and once in a senior meeting, it was never stated elsewhere. 

“Being vaccinated was indeed a known requirement I was aware of in order to go to prom. However, the administration never stressed that requirement aloud, it was kind of just, if you read it, great! If you didn’t, it was just an inattentive type of thing,” he stated. 

From this same group of students, 102 of the students’ plans for going to prom did not change while seven students expressed that theirs did due to this policy. 

Brendan Dugan, a senior drama major, stated that it did not change plans for him as he has the vaccine, but how it could potentially affect who people are bringing to prom. Other students such as Luke Studley Roberts can sympathize with students who might not be able to experience prom. 

“I am vaccinated so this doesn’t affect me. But I actually wouldn’t mind if unvaccinated people went, obviously there are bound to be people who aren’t vaccinated who exist within this school. Some people are unvaccinated because of their beliefs or health reasons. But because of the times we live in, it’s extremely necessary and I see why it was done. It’s a little unfair to the people who are not going to be able to go because they will miss out on this experience but I understand the need for the vaccination for everyone’s safety and the times we are in,” he explained. 

This opinion seems to be shared by some other students as well. According to the questionnaire, 20 students think that seniors should not have to be vaccinated in order to go to prom while 89 students do think it’s a necessary precaution.

Seniors Maeve Gopeesingh (art major) and Monica Malas (vocal major), think that this is a really fair policy. Due to the new sub-variant to Omicron: BA-2.

“Covid is spreading to everyone regardless of vaccination, but we don’t know what the numbers will look like in a few months from now.  So, I think that it is reasonable and should be followed 100 percent, unfortunately it will leave people out and because of this my plans [of going] have changed, but again for everyone’s safety it makes the most sense,” Monica explained. 

Maeve agrees and follows up with the fact that many students are or live with people who are immunocompromised. 

“I am vaccinated, and I think it is important to keep in mind the kids who are immunocompromised or live with people who are, deserve to enjoy this with as little stress as possible in terms of getting sick. I assume we will be maskless, so this looks like the best and most reasonable precaution we can take to keep everyone safe because if no precautions are taken place, if even one in the senior class is sick everyone who attended will be directly at risk,” Maeve states. 

Within the questionnaire, some students answered as to whether they would feel safer if students were vaccinated and 17 students said no, that it didn’t change how safe they felt while 62 students disagreed.  

Dallas White, a senior dance major and student body president went into detail about how she would feel safer knowing everyone around her was vaccinated. She voiced that the virus is not vanishing just because we decided it was the right time to stop wearing masks. Dallas went on to say that although being vaccinated does not stop you from catching the virus (as none of them do), that she would feel more comfortable knowing that students were all protected in some fashion. Although this is so, she doesn’t believe that being vaccinated should be the one factor that prevents students from attending prom.  

“No, I don’t think it matters in totality because of the loosening of restrictions within the state and the country. Prom is the one night that is for all of us seniors and I don’t think a vaccination should take that away from anyone who chooses not to get vaccinated,” she argued. 

Brendan Dugan, also brought up the notion of people getting vaccinated due to being excluded from certain activities and places. He explained how he has been around people that have been unvaccinated for personal reasons and then get vaccinated due to circumstances such as this one. 

“When a friend of mine wanted to audition for a school they really wanted to go to and they became aware that they need to get vaccinated, they made that change and got vaccinated so they knew they wouldn’t miss out on a chance to audition or have any regrets. I think a small percentage of seniors might take that initiative for prom as well,” he voiced. 

Maeve Gopeesingh and Brandon Bosch think that it matters that we are vaccinated because it’s more about the principle of respect and maturity for all people’s circumstances. Maeve explains how the seniors have already missed half of their high school experience with Covid and the most they can do to enjoy what they have left is to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable. 

“It definitely does matter if people are vaccinated in order to get into prom. But like before, not everyone will do it and although it may not be favorable, we have to respect people’s choices (even though I am inherently judging this poor choice), and just take the safety precaution of bringing a negative Covid-19 test taken within 24 hours of the event and if you’re feeling ill don’t come. As long as being safe and understanding around other people are main priorities of the night, there should be no extraneous problems,” Brandon said.