Students prepare for Halloween with safety precautions, inventive ideas

This year, Halloween falls on the Saturday of Daylight Savings Time, providing time for an extra hour of festivities. It is also the first Halloween with a blue moon since 1944. Yet only 22% of St. John’s students are celebrating with friends, according to poll data from the Review Online.

With hundreds of daily new COVID cases in Harris County, junior Jackson Harvey and his parents agreed that their family should stay home.  

“I don’t want to jeopardize my family’s well-being or my athletics,” Harvey said. “I’m worried about my respiratory functions being permanently affected by the virus.”

Even though Michelle Hebl, Harvey’s mother, is an avid Halloween fan, she will be extra cautious in  plans for the holiday because of COVID-19 concerns. In March, the Harveys started wiping down groceries and social distancing, even frequenting their secluded Colorado home to avoid risks.

“When the virus first hit, we got the hell out of [here] like many others,” Hebl said, “but now, people are not being as careful because the virus has been out there for so long. The most dangerous thing we can do is get lax.”

The most dangerous thing we can do is get lax.

— Michelle Hebl

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, young children, who make up the majority of trick-or-treaters, can be dangerous asymptomatic carriers of the virus. To mitigate the risks of face-to-face contact, students are forming creative plans for the holiday.

“Since we are uncomfortable going into other people’s houses, my friends and I are thinking of doing a ouija board in a graveyard to contact spirits on the blue moon,” an anonymous student said. “To keep it COVID-safe, we will be wearing masks and gloves.”

Several SJS parents are inventing new ways to safely interact with passersby on Halloween. Some parents plan to hand out individually wrapped candy to the trick-or-treaters by putting them on tables, using a marshmallow gun or firing a dog ball launcher.

“If students want to go to a Halloween event, they should be mindful of the level of risk that the activity involves and certainly remain consistent with SJS protocols,” said Tesa Stark, Director of Clinical Services. “It is natural to want to connect with others, and there are safe ways to do this.”

A possible surge of COVID-19 cases after Halloween is generating concern in the middle of the flu season. Hebl and Stark hope the SJS community will adhere to local neighborhood guidelines and listen to medical professionals. 

“If we don’t believe in science, we don’t believe in education,” Hebl said, “and we have a long haul through the holidays as we watch the second spike already upon us.”