Halloween to bring more tricks than treats, as parties may turn into superspreaders

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Hubert Chen

Students attending large, indoor Halloween parties face increased risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Samantha Johnstone, Webmaster

Halloween is a day away, and Burlingame students are normally excited for the scary events to come. Haunted houses, scary costumes, horror movies and celebrations generally characterize this holiday but a pandemic Halloween brings more scares with the looming threat of it becoming a superspreader. 

Burlingame students often attend large, indoor parties on Halloween. Attending these traditional parties in the midst of COVID-19 is no longer a safe option according to SMUHSD’s Student Health Coordinator, Sara Devaney.

“Obviously we can’t predict anything, but what we’ve seen…around holidays is that if someone [has] COVID, it can be spread rapidly at these gatherings … especially because people get less restrictive and often take off their masks,” Devaney said. 

Shared food and drinks and higher risk activities such as shouting, singing, or dancing can all be extremely dangerous amid the pandemic. 

“Attending these parties could potentially put people at risk, which undermines our main goal right now of working together to keep ourselves and our community safe,” Devaney said. 

Students are anxious to return to school, and attending large gatherings could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases and a delayed return to on campus learning. 

“I know everyone is really tired of all these new restrictions … but California is doing really well, especially the Bay Area, and we want to keep it that way as we get into the flu season and winter,” Devaney said. 

 

Many students are opting for safer, lower risk Halloween celebrations in order to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. Junior Kylie Holzman and senior Alan Vazquez are both celebrating at Ray Park, which has a two acre field. 

“I’m planning on getting together with a small group of my four closest friends … and we are each going to bring our own hammocks … and just kind of chill out and eat candy and snacks,” Holzman said. 

Holzman noted that they will be wearing masks and making sure their hammocks are appropriately socially distanced. Vazquez is also heading to the park, but is opting for an outdoor movie night instead.

“Me and a couple of friends … are planning on going to Ray Park and setting up a projector there,” Vazquez said.

This is not how Vazquez hoped to spend his Halloween, and he relates to the fear of missing out and wishes to have a more traditional high school experience. 

“I get the feeling of wanting to go out … because it’s like, ‘we’ve been stuck inside for so long!’” Vazquez said. “[But] I think it’s worth more to wait a little bit until everything is cleared over … and then party on.”

Vazquez and Holzman are opting out of traditional celebrations to prevent the virus from running rampant through the community. After seven months, many teenagers are fed up with quarantine, but staying socially distanced is still vitally important.

“Evidence does show that adolescents and young adults sometimes experience symptoms that are less intense … but you could still be spreading it to someone who is at risk … We really want to be thinking about others,” Devaney said. 

Fun, socially distanced alternatives to Halloween celebrations include playing Among Us, drive-in movies, or socially distanced gatherings at the park, as Holzman and Vasquez are doing.Acting responsibly on Halloween this year looks different, but can still be festive and fun. 

“If you are going to gather, try keeping it very limited to less than three people and … masking up,” Devaney said.