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To trick-or-treat, or not to trick-or-treat

To trick-or-treat, or not to trick-or-treat

Sep. 28, 2020

By Mary Wade Burnside

As the leaves turn to yellow and orange and a nip of cold can be felt in the air, it’s not unusual to start thinking about the holiday season that is coming up.

What is not typical, however, is trying to figure out how to celebrate as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monongalia County Health Department is here to help. The Great Pumpkin will be pleased to know that Halloween will be making an appearance in Monongalia County this year. Four municipalities — Morgantown, Westover, Star City and Blacksville — will hold trick-or-treat on Saturday, Oct. 31, while the town of Granville will host a parade through town on Friday, Oct. 30.

So then comes the next question: how to stay safe? The city of Morgantown’s website has some great advice, as does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Let’s start with Morgantown’s tips:

• Don’t trick-or-treat if you feel sick;
• Stay outside and keep it moving;
• Stay in your own neighborhood;
• Keep groups small;
• Wear a cloth mask;
• Give others space when passing;
• Wash or sanitize your hands before eating candy.

If you plan to give out candy you should follow these tips:

• Be innovative and don’t use a communal candy bowl;
• Space candy out on a table or group candy in individual grab-and-go bags;
• Don’t hand out candy if you or someone in your home is sick;
• Keep your porch lights out if you do not want to participate.

The Dominion Post recently published a story about how a half PVC pipe could be fashioned into a chute for distributing candy at a distance. Some friends of mine thought a skeleton hand would be a fun and safe way to hand out treats. That got my husband to thinking that a robotic arm that could be maneuvered from inside the house would be a good, high-tech method to accomplish this as well. 

As for the CDC, even though trick-or-treat is an option in Monongalia County, it urges parents to consider safer alternatives. Activities have been divided into three groups: low risk, moderate risk and high risk.

Low Risk:

• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them;
• Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends;
• Decorating your house, apartment or living space;
• A Halloween scavenger hunt;
• A virtual Halloween costume contest;
• A Halloween movie night with housemates or close family members;
• A scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

Moderate Risk:

• Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go;
• Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart;
• Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart;
• Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where mask use is enforced and people can remain more than 6 feet apart;
• Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is enforced and people can socially distance; 
• An outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with everyone spaced at least 6 feet apart.

The CDC considers trick-or-treating to be a higher risk, along with attending a crowded party with no social distancing and a trunk-or-treat in which treats are handed out from the back of a car.

Also, the use of drugs and alcohol are discouraged because that will lower your judgment. It’s also recommended that individuals from more urban areas that are experiencing high rates of COVID-19 refrain from going to more rural areas that aren’t.

However your family celebrates Halloween, think about how you can keep your children and other community members safe. You know the drill: Masks (the medical kind for those not wearing costumes), social distancing and lots and lots of hand washing and hand sanitizer.

Also, it’s going to be getting dark, so remember the typical Halloween safety tips such as carrying flashlights, watching for cars (and pedestrians if you’re the driver) and selecting a safe costume.

​A safe Halloween is a happy Halloween.

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information office at Monongalia County Health Department.

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