Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

What are we going to do about Halloween?

The (then) Six-Year-Old camped out on the floor at school, waiting for the Halloween parade to start. Why yes, that is a Garfield book. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Quick post today, as the work is definitely piling up here. Still, last week our local public health office released official guidance for how to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 during Halloween and Día de Los Muertos celebrations. I wanted to share it quickly with you here, in case your family, like mine, is trying to figure out what those celebrations will look like for you this year.

What our local health officials want us to do

No surprise, our county public health officials want us to avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, large gatherings, or traveling to fall festivals outside our home communities.

Instead they recommend lower risk activities, like visiting an outdoor pumpkin patch (with masks and distancing), carving pumpkins in your own home or outside with a small group of masked and socially distant friends, decorating your house, having a virtual costume party, or going to a vehicle-based activity, like a drive-in movie.

My daughter doesn’t appear interested in trick-or-treating this year, but if yours are, the guidance also includes tips for making trick-or-treating a bit safer. Not surprisingly those tips involve individually wrapped goodie bags, no eating candy on the route, wearing a themed cloth mask instead of a costume mask, and frequent applications of hand sanitizer.

Let’s put those recommendations in context.

How bad is COVID-19 in our area, anyway?

Although we’ve made quite a bit of progress since I last looked up our county on Harvard’s COVID-19 Risk Level tracker, Santa Clara County remains a yellow zone, with 5.1 new daily cases per 100K people.

(Back in August my county was listed as an orange zone, with 12.4 new daily cases per 100K people. Yay! Progress!)

Halloween/Día de Los Muertos in your community may look quite different, depending on your area’s risk level

As you are making your plans, I encourage you to visit the website for your local public health department to see if they’ve posted recommendations yet for your community.

To do that:

1. Open your favorite web browser and search for “public health [your city, state, or county]”

Sample web search on the Google search engine for "public health department boston ma"
Sample web search (Image: Shala’s Computer)

2. Browse the search results until you spot the website for your city, state, or county. In this case, the web site I’m looking for is the top choice.

List of search results from the Google search engine. The Department of Public Health Mass.gov appears at the top of the list.
Sample search results. (Image: Shala’s Computer)

3. Click on the link for the public health department for your area. The homepage of the Massachusetts Department of Health is pretty full. We’re looking for the search bar (called out by the orange arrow).

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health home page has its top half taken up by COVID-19 alerts. The search bar is located halfway down the page.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health home page, with orange arrow added by me.

4. Use the site-specific search bar to search for something like “Halloween 2020 guidelines” or “Halloween COVID” or “Halloween coronavirus” and hit Search.

Same picture as before, but "Halloween Covid" has been typed into the site's search bar.
Sample search on the Mass.gov Public Health website.

5. Sort through the list of documents that calls up. Ideally the one you’re looking for will be near the top (if not actually the top of the list).

Search results from the Mass.gov Public Health page lists "Halloween during COVID-19" as the first document.
Sample search results.

6. Read the recommendations and plan accordingly. (For sake of completeness, here are the guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for celebrating Halloween this year: Halloween during COVID-19: Tips for a Safe and Healthy Halloween.)

Stay safe out there, y’all.

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