RUFFOLO: Kids should be allowed to trick-or-treat this Halloween

Graphic by Sketchify

Graphic by Sketchify

Despite fear surrounding COVID-19 transmission, we should allow children to trick-or-treat this Halloween.

Going door-to-door in costumes with friends or family collecting candy is one of the best things about childhood. It is a wholesome, fun activity that has become one of the defining factors of the holiday of Halloween. 

Despite this tradition, cities such as Milwaukee have decided not to host formal trick-or-treating due to coronavirus safety concerns. Other public events during the spring and summer, such as sporting events and festivals, had also been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Unlike these events, trick-or-treating can be done in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks. Trick-or-treating usually does not involve a lot of contact, besides the candy giver placing wrapped candy in the child’s bag. Additionally, many Halloween costumes already involve things like masks and gloves, which could help prevent COVID-19 transmission. 

While some people may say that the coronavirus can travel through contact with candy wrappers, it has been found that the coronavirus does not spread easily through surfaces, and it is not cause for as much concern as respiratory droplets, which can be reduced by wearing a mask. 

If people feel uncomfortable doing traditional trick-or-treating, there are other innovative and creative ways to maintain the activity. For example, some people have suggested a contactless candy chute that slides down from the window or hiding candy in scavenger-hunt like fashion in yards across the neighborhood. 

At Marquette University, residence halls have traditionally hosted HALLoween, in which Milwaukee-area kids can come to residence halls to treat-or-trick.

Tracy Gerth-Antoniewicz, assistant director of residence life education, said residence halls are partnering with Mars on an app called Treat Town this year, which provides a virtual trick-or-treating experience. She also mentioned that residence halls are exploring the idea of pumpkin pick-up, but it has not yet been finalized.

Kids have already gone through a lot this year. Many of them have to do online schooling and miss out on having fun with their friends. They were unable to go to the pool or zoo this summer, their childish sense of adventure and energy has been heavily constrained. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that kids experience grief when they miss out on significant life events and miss out on social interactions. 

While these restrictions have been put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, there are certain activities that can be done in a safe way, and it is necessary to still celebrate holidays vivaciously and live happily during difficult situations like a pandemic. 

Trick-or-treating is in many ways, safer to alternative fall or other Halloween activities, such as having large Halloween parties or attending indoor haunted houses. People may be more likely to host or attend these events if trick-or-treating is not allowed and kids have nothing else to do.

An activity that can be done in a low-contact matter outside is preferable to a high contact indoor event. No matter what, people should still make an effort to stay safe by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Before cities decide to cancel trick-or-treating, they must assess the rationality behind this decision. This mostly safe, spooky-season tradition might be exactly what kids need to cheer up during these restricted times. 

This story was written by Lucia Ruffolo. She can be reached at lucia.ruffolo@marquette.edu