US Nanny Institute on September 22, 2020
This year has been a time of change and adjustment for everyone. As Fall approaches, many children begin to think about Halloween and look forward to dressing in costumes and trick or treating around the neighborhood or participating in many of the other traditional fall activities. As with other things in our daily lives, changes must occur to help keep our children safe. Everyone already knows the basic rules – avoid crowds, practice good hand washing hygiene, and wear masks. Many favorite Halloween traditions can incorporate these practices so we can enjoy the season and still stay safe.
The CDC has provided guidance for trick or treating – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html
Selecting a Halloween costume can be as simple as a child wanting to be their favorite animal or as complex as a group themed presentation. Costume selection for 2020 should take into consideration the wearing of a mask that covers the nose and mouth. It may be frustrating to wear a mask in public all the time, but at Halloween, you can embrace it and make it part of your costume. It can become a focal point that the masks of some superheroes or simply and accessory that compliments your costume choice.
There are often numerous pre-Halloween events such as pumpkin picking, haunted houses, corn mazes, hayrides, and parades. These activities may be enjoyed with certain precautions.
- Most pumpkin picking farms are wide-open areas and it will be relatively easy top keep socially distanced from others. Once you have made your choice(s), make sure to don your mask when approaching the payment area.
- Haunted Houses can pose a different challenge. Many are so popular that long lines are created as people wait for their turn. Keep proper social distance and wear a mask in line. If possible, go at a less busy time to minimize this risk. It is also a good idea to keep your mask on when inside the haunted house. Even though most of the ghouls and goblins should be wearing face coverings, it adds a layer of protection if you do also.
- Hayrides are another Fall favorite. If the wagon is small or if your family is large, you may be able to have a hayride with just family members. However, you amy be sharing the hay wagon or trailer with others which can increase your risk. In this instance, keep as much distance as possible between groups and wear your mask – even though you are outdoors.
- Corn mazes may have lines like haunted houses and the same suggestions apply – wear a mask in line and social distance when possible. Even though corn mazes are outdoors, you may want to wear a mask while inside the maze. You don’t know who could be just around the next bend.
- Many communities have parades for Halloween. If the viewers can practice social distancing and wear masks, then the risk may be reduced. The traditional Halloween party is also a challenge. Gathering in large groups, especially indoors, is still highly discouraged.
Traditionally, trick or treating involves dressing up and going around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and collecting candies. The weather usually has a huge impact on the size of the crowds wandering around. If household members stick together in small groups and maintain social distancing, there may be a lower risk. Anyone approaching the door should have a mask that covers their nose and mouth. A bag or other container should be used to collect the candy and the homeowner should deposit the candy there – not let each child rummage through their selection and pick their own. It is not a good year to have a lot of children’s hands in the candy bowl. Facebook has had several examples of creative ways to deliver candy to the neighborhood children and keep some distance. Long chutes and remote-controlled vehicles are two popular examples.
Some neighborhoods are not conducive to door to door trick or treating and communities have organized events call “Trunk or Treat”. Typically, a large parking lot or other area is chosen, and families drive up and distribute candies from the back of their cars. This allows the children to go from car to car and get the trick or treating experience in a more controlled environment. Some of these events encourage the children to participate in activities at each car. This year, parking cars farther apart (10-15 feet) could help participants stay as physically distanced as possible. A single designee should distribute the candy from each vehicle into a bag or other container. Activities should not be ‘hands-on’ and should not result in the gathering of large crowds. Try to keep interactions brief and ensure all the participants are wearing masks.
This year has seen a lot of creative ways to celebrate and maintain social distancing. One of these is the drive-by parade. If parents in a neighborhood are concerned about children going door to door, they can reverse the trick or treating paradigm and have the candy givers provide drive-by trick or treating. Children can stand in front of their homes as the neighbors drive by and toss candy into designated bins.
While you do not want to let the pandemic ruin your Halloween fun, you don’t want the scary season to become genuinely dangerous for little ghosts and ghouls. Everyone can still have fun. Keep in mind the CDC guidelines and wear masks and social distance whenever possible. Hand cleaning is also important. Carry hand sanitizers and/or wipes on outings and use them frequently after touching common surfaces. You may not need to sanitize after every house when trick or treating but set up a plan for every few houses to minimize risk. If you feel more comfortable wiping your groceries, you may want to wipe down the Halloween candy.
This has been a challenging year and many children are missing their friends and familiar activities. Celebrating Halloween can be safely accomplished with a few precautionary actions.
The US Nanny Institute provides online childcare classes with certification programs based on a curriculum specifically designed to advance the skills of Nannies and Sitters. The Nanny Institute has over 30 college faculty with a passion for education and childcare, bringing them together to help childcare providers gain practical skills and qualifications that benefit their careers and the children in their care.
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