For many college students, the month of October and Halloween are some of the most fun and rambunctious times of the year. From costume parties to pumpkin picking, the Halloween season is usually a time to thrive in the company of others. However, this Halloween is going to look very different for everyone due to the pandemic sweeping the globe.
Parties and other events that involve several people gathering are being cautioned against by organizations like the CDC.
“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters,” stated the CDC’s website.
The CDC has classified popular Halloween activities under three different categories of caution to take when participating. Lower risk activities are the best to participate in, as they prevent the spread of COVID-19. Activities like carving pumpkins with family members, carving pumpkins in an outdoor space with social distancing, decorating a living space, holding a virtual Halloween costume contest and watching Halloween movies with other members of a household are considered the safest ways to spend the Halloween holiday.
High-risk activities that should be avoided at all costs are: traditional trick-or-treating or trunk-or-treating, going to indoor haunted houses, going on hayrides, traveling to out of town festivals and most importantly, attending crowded parties held indoor or outdoor.
Last year, the Western Carolina Police Department responded to a number of calls about Halloween campus parties getting out of hand. This
year, several parties on and around campus have already been reported in unsafe numbers.
The Western Carolina Police Department has worked with WCU to create a plan for reducing gatherings during Halloween, as well as dealing with parties and gatherings that do crop up.
“This year, we are continuing to help reinforce University guidelines that restrict large gatherings, mandate facial coverings in public areas and emphasize social distancing. Right now, we are trying to help educate people about the rules that are in place and the importance of staying healthy during Halloween, as opposed to trying to enforce the rules through the use of sanctions,” said Brian Thomas, assistant chief of police at WCU.
“Throughout the semester, we have found that most people understand the importance of staying healthy and have already been complying with University guidelines,” Thomas said.
While it may seem like a let down to miss out on the “normal” Halloween activities, reducing the spread of COVID-19 this year will increase the chances of a normal Halloween next year. Taking precautions and working to slow and reduce the spread of COVID is essential will benefit everyone on campus, and even into the surrounding communities in Jackson County.
For more information on COVID safe Halloween activities, click here.