New York State has released guidelines for proms and final end of the year celebrations for 2021. Last year, kids were disappointed that they had their entire end of the year cut short, especially Seniors. One day everyone was in school, the next, they are not and they may not have even known that they had already seen some of their classmates for the final time. Proms and balls were cancelled for 2020, but this year they are back on.

Growing up through high school in 2006, we could kind of relate. When the October Surprise Storm hit across Western New York, all Spirit week activities and high school football rivalries were all suddenly cancelled as schools were shut down for the week. Now, that is no end of the year, never-see-your-friends again type of stuff that happened to the kids last year in 2020, but at least they will be able to go to prom and finish off the year right.

Under New York State guidelines, high schools can hold their end of the year proms and balls on or after June 1. With about 6 weeks heads up, high school committees and officials should be able to pull it off. Of course, though, there are restrictions:

  • Event organizers must ensure that attendees are not congregating, except when seated at their assigned table. Attendees should only be standing when necessary (e.g., enter/exit, restroom, use of staffed buffet), when essential to the event (e.g., entrance), or, when permitted under the below circumstances.
  • Event organizers may provide cocktail receptions for attendees where standing is permitted with strict adherence to social distancing; provided, however, that attendees only remove their face coverings to consume food and beverages while seated. Further, attendees must not remove their face covering and must not consume food and beverage if members of different parties are within six feet.
  • Event organizers may permit live music, entertainment (e.g., DJ), and/or dancing within the following parameters, which will be revisited by the State as the public health condition continues to change:
  • Live music performers and other entertainers, particularly if unmasked or playing a wind instrument, must be separated from attendees by either 12 feet or an appropriate physical barrier.
  • Attendees may dance with members of their same party in designated and clearly marked dancing areas that allow for appropriate social distancing between members of different parties and any tables (i.e., at least, six feet apart).
  • Attendees must wear face coverings while in the dancing area.
  • Event organizers can consider creating dance zones for tables, assigning parties to different times on dance floor, alternating which tables of attendees can dance or be seated, setting and enforcing capacity limits for dance floors, and/or other measures to ensure appropriate distancing between attendees.
  • Event organizers should consider staggered intervals for food service at staffed buffets to allow attendees to maintain social distance while waiting in line.
  • Event organizers should consider serving any passed foods (e.g., hors d’oeuvres) in containers that limit touching of any shared surfaces (e.g., platters) by attendees. Events are subject to inspection by State and local health authorities to ensure compliance with all provisions of State-issued guidance.

It seems like a lot, but a lot of these bullet points are practices that we have been doing for the past 13 months. So, while not ideal, they are still dooable in order to make the end of the year celebrations a-go!

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