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Coronavirus: Keeping Halloween Spooky, Not Contagious

By: Scott Dobson, MD

Halloween, a cherished holiday for many and a true symbol of American fall culture. With pretend play and candy consuming prioritized on this last day of October, how can you blame children for looking forward to it the second the leaves begin to change?

Unfortunately this year, Halloween should look a little different due to the ongoing global pandemic that is COVID-19. But, how do we keep the holiday alive AND stay safe AND avoid massive meltdowns from our children?  How do we embody Halloween’s spooky and whimsical nature but also avoid contagious viruses like the coronavirus and even the flu?

Parkside’s first suggestion would be to get creative…

Ways to Celebrate Halloween While Protecting Your Family and Others
  • Consider changing the normal methods of Trick-or-Treating this year. On the actual night of Halloween, could you set up a candy scavenger hunt for your children inside your home? Still let them dress up and feel the adventure of the night—and even get your pictures—but have them hunt for candy inside your home instead of going door-to-door to collect their precious treats.
  • Have a tight-knit neighborhood? The Center for Disease control (CDC) suggests letting your child participate in a socially distanced outdoor costume parade. Children could still enjoy seeing their friend’s costumes, relish in showing off their own, and then stay safe by divulging in pre purchased candy at home. This would obviously require planning before hand—think 6 ft. apart between all participants and mask wearing for all those taking part in the parade that are over 2 yrs. of age.
  • Create a spooky dinner and a movie experience. Grab some fake cobwebs, old candles, bring all the pumpkins inside, and eat dinner as a family (hot dog mummies anyone?). End the night with popcorn and a festive film like Hocus Pocus—or any other less great Halloween movie.
  • Host a virtual Halloween Party. Again, your child gets to show off their costume from the safety of their own home.

If you are going to venture out as a family this All Hallows Eve, please proceed with caution and follow the below guidelines…

Safety Steps to Take While Trick-or-Treating
  •  Wear a mask. We can’t stress enough how much this prevents the spread of the coronavirus. If your child is over 2 yrs. of age, include them in the excitement of this costume addition by painting on whiskers or a creepy smile. ***Please note: Do not layer the cloth face covering with another plastic Halloween mask as suffocation is possible***
  • Maintain 6 ft. apart from other trick-or-treaters and home owners. We know you’re well educated about the social distancing but remember your child will be likely to forget the strange new normal rules on such an exciting evening.
  • Only let your child divulge in (and leave out) pre-wrapped candy. The CDC recommends setting up “a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take” to limit the amount of germs passing from person-to-person.
  • Make hand sanitizer a new Halloween accessory. Sanitizing your child’s hands in between houses and washing your child’s hands before letting them dig into their candy at the end of the night are easy ways to eliminate germs that they may pick up, or that they may spread, along the way.
  • We know many costume clad kids do not venture into their neighbor’s homes while trick-or-treating anyway, but recommending to stay outdoors is worth mentioning on such a social evening. The more free flowing air, the better when trying to protect your child and your community.

The “new normal” is strange to embrace at any time, but putting safety first is especially challenging during the holidays. Consciously weighing the risk against the reward is a great practice when trying to make decisions around socializing for your family.

If you do decide to do things a bit differently this year, take heart in the fact that your creative alternative could turn into your child’s new favorite tradition!

Until next time,

Dr. Scott Dobson

Parkside Provider, an average golfer, and a curly hair product collector

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