OPINION: Trick-or-treating is not safe this year

Pumpkin+carving+-+A+safe+alternative+to+traditional+trick-or-treating.

Emma Sheeran

Pumpkin carving – A safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating.

Emma Sheeran, Contributing Writer

America has been hit incredibly hard by COVID-19, and the current death toll has already surpassed 200,000. We are faced with the scary fact that as winter approaches, a surge in the virus may soon follow. The upcoming months will be filled with holiday celebrations, parties and family gatherings. Health and safety should be at the forefront of all discussions regarding these events. 

The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted normal life for many months. The upcoming holidays will need to be adapted to meet our new normal. With Halloween approaching, many families are faced with a hard decision: Do they let their kids participate in traditional Halloween activities such as trick-or-treating? How can parents keep their children safe from the virus during this holiday?

Trick-or-treating is the most concerning tradition with the coronavirus pandemic. It is entirely too dangerous to take children trick-or-treating this year. The CDC lists traditional trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity, because when individual candy is handed out, contamination is inevitable. Another popular activity, trunk-or-treating, is equally as dangerous. There is no way to fully sanitize the candy being handed out, making children an easy target for the virus. 

The CDC recommends low-risk celebrations such as carving pumpkins, virtual costume parties and candy scavenger hunts in your home. Each of these activities are safe and fun options for children to participate in during the pandemic. While unconventional, these alternative activities help to ensure the health and safety of your friends, family and children. 

Tanya Harrington, a kindergarten teacher in Lee County stated, “I feel like we shouldn’t cancel Halloween because of COVID-19, but I do think that we need to be careful about how we celebrate. Even though someone may be careful and follow precautions, there is still an increased risk of spreading the virus through handling and touching candy in bowls.” 

Harrington brought up a concern shared by many parents, teachers, and community members: spreading the virus via candy. COVID-19 is a highly transmissible virus with no current treatment. It is spread through viral droplets in the air and on surfaces. Therefore, candy in bowls is a prime spot for spreading the virus due many hands reaching inside. Trick-or-treating is much too dangerous to participate in considering the COVID-19 infection rates.  

Harrington also discussed alternative activities that are low-risk. “Placing candy in goody bags would decrease the chance of hand contamination. We still need to consider social distancing. I think it is very difficult for small children to understand the limitations placed, so I think it’s best for families to celebrate Halloween at home. There are many fun activities, such as carving pumpkins, baking cookies and watching movies. All of these activities are just as enjoyable and much safer during this pandemic. My family will not be trick-or-treating this year. We have already made plans to celebrate in the safety of our home.”

Staying home for holiday celebrations is simply the safest option this year. Halloween can still be fun for children when staying home. Consider decorating the interior of your house, watching movies, doing indoor scavenger hunts and virtual costume parties. While none of these alternatives can replace the classic tradition of trick-or-treating, they will keep your loved ones safe during this unprecedented time. 

It is crucial that we adapt our traditions to meet our new normal. The pandemic will not take a break for us to celebrate holidays, therefore, we must find new ways to enjoy these times without increasing our risk of illness. Enjoy Halloween this year within the safety of your home. It is the most responsible and healthy option considering our global circumstances.