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Have a COVID-safe Halloween

A jack-o'-lantern wearing a cloth face mask.

  

Oct. 17, 2020—COVID-19 is changing how we do things, and Halloween is no exception. But while clustering together outside people’s doors and grabbing candy from a bowl may be discouraged, there are still plenty of ways you and your children can have a spooktacular holiday.

Here are some ideas from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Host scary movie night. Put a scary movie on the TV and have everyone in the family dress as their favorite character. You can do this at home indoors or outside with a projector. If you go the indoor route, let your children watch while video chatting with friends who start the movie at the same time at their house. If you watch the movie outdoors, invite a few friends to come over and watch the movie while social distancing and wearing cloth masks.

Speaking of masks, keep this in mind: Costume masks are not a substitute for cloth face masks. Cloth face masks should have several layers of breathable fabric and cover the mouth and nose. Don’t let your child wear a costume mask over a cloth mask; it may make it hard for your child to breathe. And don’t paint a cloth mask—some paints contain toxins.

Have a virtual costume parade. Host an online party using a video chat program. Invite everyone to wear their best costume and vote for the winners. If the weather cooperates and you can stay 6 feet apart, host a neighborhood parade. Admire your neighbors’ Halloween decorations as you walk by.

Visit a pumpkin patch or corn maze. Bring along hand sanitizer to clean hands in between touching pumpkins or other surfaces. Keep at least 6 feet away from people who aren’t part of your household. Wear cloth face masks.

Decorate a pumpkin. Here’s a fun tradition the whole family can enjoy. Let children draw faces on pumpkins with markers. Then turn the knife work over to the adults. Light the masterpiece from inside with a battery-operated “candle.” And don’t forget to save the seeds for roasting later.

Make your own Halloween-themed pizza. Decorate a pizza to look like a jack-o’-lantern using red peppers and black olives for eyes, cut-up cauliflower for teeth, and yellow or green peppers for ears.

Consider outdoor community events. Look for programs offered by the park district, zoo or mall in your area. But stay away from crowds, and follow safe distancing rules even when outside.

Set up a backyard scavenger hunt. Organize a hunt for Halloween-themed toys and bagged treats hidden in your backyard.

If you do go trick-or-treating, make sure everyone from your household stays at least 6 feet away from others. Avoid large gatherings of mixed groups on porches. Wipe down any candy packages your child receives from socially distanced neighbors—or let the packages sit for a few days before letting your child have them.

Other safety tips:

  • If you plan to give out treats, do so outdoors if possible.
  • If you live in a house, set up a station at the end of your driveway or sidewalk and hand out individually bagged treats.
  • Wash your hands before handling treats. (Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby for you and others to use as needed.)
  • Supervise young children who use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, and wear a cloth face mask.
  • Encourage your children to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before they eat any treats.

Not planning to hand out treats? Signal your intentions by turning off your porch light and extinguishing the lights inside any pumpkins.

If you’re pondering attending a Halloween party, here’s how you can gauge the safety of any social gathering in this age of the pandemic.

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