Almost nobody expected the coronavirus pandemic to last until October after the country first shut down in March, but with cases spiking nationwide during flu season, Americans must act wisely to prevent unnecessary spread. Some families are now opting for safer Halloween celebrations that do not involve traditional neighborhood trick-or-treating.
Bettina Cromley, Richardson resident and mother of Jaxon (6) and Cole (4), aims to keep her family and others as safe as possible during this holiday season.
“The pandemic has definitely changed our plans for this time of the year,” she said. “Normally, our plans are ramping up: my sons’ birthdays are in the fall and winter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are right around the corner.”
however, wanting to follow the proper safety precautions inevitably impedes families’ usual festivities. Family members with underlying conditions or in at-risk age categories also play a significant role in the execution of new decisions.
“One of my sons has some lung issues, so we are trying to take precautions since there are no definitive answers about COVID,” said Cromley.
The Cromley family has modified Halloween plans this year to protect themselves, especially their asthmatic son, from infection.
“We decided to forego any pumpkin patches or fall festivals,” said Cromley. “Additionally, instead of doing normal trick-or-treating, we are creating a ‘haunted hallway’ in our home for the kids to trick-or-treat in.”
The Cromleys have paired with another neighborhood family for online school, and they have arranged socially distanced, outdoor activities that include their families.
“Together we will do an outdoor movie night on Halloween,” said Bettina Cromley. “This way the children can feel like it is special and fun, even though they do not get to trick-or-treat.”
Both families also want to ensure the safety of those who choose to trick-or-treat in their neighborhood like usual.
“I think some people will trick-or-treat, so we will leave some pre-bagged candy by the sidewalk for other children to take,” said Cromley. “We figured this is not just about us; there are other people that could be harmed by our spreading the virus, so we should not risk it.”
Since young children may not understand the pandemic crisis, Cromley figured that keeping Jaxon and Cole home would be the best option to guarantee proper safety measures.
“Having younger children makes it harder to ensure they will social distance or keep their masks on,” said Cromley. “Besides, we have no control over other families, and if they choose to send their children trick-or-treating infected and without masks, they could jeopardize our family’s safety.”
Cromley finds herself making these hard decisions often nowadays. With more people returning to everyday life as it existed before COVID, she feels the need to protect her own children from their friends.
“I think a lot of people are tired of social distancing and I do worry that my children are missing out,” she said. “Some families we know have returned to normal activities that we keep our kids from attending.”
Nonetheless, Cromley always assesses her priorities carefully: would she rather spend the holidays at home or potentially risk her children’s health?
“If I keep my kids from normal activities, they miss a chance to trick-or-treat, but if we all become too careless and someone we care about becomes seriously sick, I will regret that decision much more,” she said, “so we try to make safe decisions.”
COVID adjustments raise questions concerning the need for contact-heavy activities when they can be just as fun in the comfort of one’s home. Cromley chooses to look at her family’s modified Halloween plans in a positive light.
She said, “Missing out is a mindset. We can make the time we spend as a small family exciting too.”