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Halloween 2022 and safety

Suggestions for parents by experts

Halloween 2022 and safety

While celebrating Halloween this year may be easier for families, thanks to a waning threat from COVID, parents will no doubt remain cautious about sending their children trick-or-treating and to Halloween parties. Many children remain unvaccinated and the old threats remain - tainted candy, strangers, busy streets.

How to best prepare children and families for the first post-pandemic Halloween, even though the virus continues to lurk, especially amid crowds?

Dr. Christine Quill, chair of the Master's Nursing Program at Endicott College, believes that it's safe enough to celebrate Halloween with traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. However, she strongly recommends that precautions be taken so all may enjoy the holiday safely and responsibly.

"Well-practiced safety measures should be taken to keep everyone safe," says Dr. Quill. "If families are to go trick-or-treating, they remain in groups, have parental supervision and try to stay away from crowds where there are many people in close quarters."

Dr. Quill adds that since many young children are not vaccinated, masks for both candy-givers and trick-or-treaters can help protect children and their parents and grandparents from being affected by COVID. As always, candy should be checked for tampering and should never eat unwrapped food. Children should never seek hand-outs from strangers or houses where the residents are not familiar.

"For older adults and those at risk, it may still be advisable to skip handing out candy in-person and opt for leaving treats on a table outside," she says.

Kristen DiGiovanni, director of field-based experiences at Endicott College agrees.

"We encountered a lot of 'contactless' trick-or-treating last year where houses left candy outside, and families took their time and respected social distancing while walking up to houses for candy," she says. "It's a system that works for those who need to be careful. Others, those vaccinated and not vulnerable may choose the old-fashioned method of doling out candy.

READ MORE: Trick or treating in a pandemic world

Professor of marketing, Dr. Anna McAlister, skipped trick-or-treating in 2021 and 2022. Her children, now teenagers, will take part in at-home celebrations, which have become popular in her social circle.

She also says some kids might prefer to focus on the fun aspects of Halloween that can be enjoyed without having to worry about crowds and social-distancing

"Some kids, especially those with executive functioning challenges, find it exhausting to constantly be mindful of following all the rules," she says. "Costume parties can be fun, but some children are not comfortable with them. Alternatives may be movie nights at home with a small group, where candy doesn't have to be checked and popcorn can be eaten without a concern about germs from strangers.

READ MORE: Halloween movies for tweens

According to Dr. Yan Wang, professor of psychology, children consider trick or treating to be a favorite holiday routine as it creates an opportunity to try on creative costumes, to visit neighbors they may rarely see in their busy daily lives, and to foster a sense of belongingness in the community, all while having fun. Children enjoy collecting candies, and learning to interact with people, to trade candy with each other, to count, to categorize, and to share

Of course, when children are exposed to so much candy, caregivers need to provide guidance, for their dental health and for their food choices, in general. Like other routined holiday events, being able to trick or treat gives children a sense of predictability, continuity, and consistency. It helps balance the uncertainty and gravity of the pandemic with some stability, lightness, and joy, which is especially important for children who have had to cope for a long time, given their young ages. It can also be a signal that we are gradually transitioning back to a normal life.

Endicott College offers doctorate, master's, bachelor's, and associate degree programs at its campus on the scenic coast of Beverly, Mass., with additional sites in Boston, online, and at U.S. and international locations. Endicott remains true to its founding principle of integrating professional and liberal arts education with internship opportunities across disciplines. For more, visit endicott.edu.

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