To Trick or Not to Treat: Should Kids Go Out This Halloween?

The CDC publically encouraged trick or treating this year, but many are still skeptical. Is some stale candy really worth the risk of catching a potentially deadly disease? Or are we depriving the youth of the Halloween experience just because of a chance they might catch something that most people survive?

Pro: We’re back in school, so why aren’t we back on the streets?

If you have been back in the building then you have seen the low levels of social distancing taking place. The number of students with masks below their nose would leave Anthoni Fauci shaking at his knees. Despite all that, the number of COVID-19 cases are shockingly low. If we are back in school, then there is no reason for us to deprive our younger friends and siblings of the true Halloween experience they missed out on last year. Furthermore, if masks are up and people are social distancing, there is a lower chance of catching the virus while trick or treating as opposed to going to school. The children will most likely be interacting with people who are already in their social circle, so disease spread is low assuming the people handing out candy are wearing masks. 

What about the spread of germs while handing out candy? Having kids stick their hands into a bucket of candy seems like a recipe for disaster and yet, most people go to the grocery store on a weekly basis and touch seemingly everything. Catching the virus from an object is highly unlikely, and simply sanitizing or just waiting to eat the candy eliminates any risk of disease spread. Even then, the solutions are simple. Putting candy into bags spread out on a surface allows for children to get their candy without touching anything else. Plus, no kid would want to say no to a goodie bag, and they can be a fun activity to put together with friends. 

There is even the option to go “trick or trunking” in some neighborhoods where people meet up in an open space and go from car to car in order to receive their candy. There is no reason to deprive kids of the true Halloween experience because of some disease a bat caused ages ago. 

Children have been cooped up in their houses for some 20 months and they need to make up for lost social interaction. Being around others is what teaches children social skills and while picking up the traits of parents and siblings is helpful, it is still not enough. Students are able to interact in school but don’t receive much time to just play with their peers apart from a thirty minute long recess, much of which is given to getting to the park and back. Giving children more opportunities to interact with one another will only benefit them going forward. Assimilation is an important part of getting used to our new normal.

Con: So you want people to die, huh?

It’s still best to take precautionary measures for Halloween given that most trick-or-treating children are under 11 years old and some are likely to still be unvaccinated. Can we really trust children to completely follow the regulations to maximize their safety? Expecting children who barely know how to wash their hands after using the bathroom is ridiculous. 

Additionally, so many parts of the mask mandate are looser when it comes to children. Masks and sprinting children do not mix unless hyperventilation is on the agenda. So many people take their masks off to the point where no one questions it at this point. Even the people who wear masks tend to pull them under their nose, and anyone at Blake can confirm to this. No one wants to be that person that has to say “pull it up right now,” in a vaguely motherly tone. Then there are the actual people handing out candy; parents can’t exactly walk up to adults and ask them to put a mask on. 

Going from door to door is practically begging the virus to spread. Halloween could become a super spreader event and cause the cases to go back up which would ruin our recent somewhat downwards trend. That trend isn’t even concrete and the number of hospitalizations has been rather unstable following the recent delta variant outbreak in America. While the kids may be relatively safe from COVID, not all of the elderly population is. The vaccine does not guarantee protection from this variant, and the third dose of pfizer is only available in trials to the immunocompromised. As important as that is, it does not cover the vast at risk population trick or treating would impact. Kids will get infected and spread to their families, and a ripple effect will inevitably form. 

Then there is the candy itself. Children are going to want to eat some as they go along. When they see their favorite piece of candy, virtually nothing is going to stop them from eating it immediately unless you want to deal with a temper tantrum. Though the rate of spread through other objects is low, it is not zero. It’s recommended to let the germs die before you eat something, especially candy that multiple people have touched. Not every house is going to be willing to go through the trouble of making goodie bags for kids if they aren’t forced to do it. Unless a county wide regulation is put in place and enforced, this is impossible. And even if it’s put in place, how could it possibly be enforced?

There are so many safer alternatives to trick or treating that can be done instead. Perhaps a small party with the child and their friends, or a movie night. The Halloween experience is not linear and the magic can still be captured in a new, ‘fun and fresh’ way. 

Conclusion: Do what you think is best!

Both sides have valid arguments. At the end of the day, it is entirely based on your individual family, personal preference, and lifestyle. Regardless, the point of Halloween is to have fun, and as long as you are doing that (within reason), no one should complain.