Once again, Halloween looks a bit different this year as families and caregivers determine the best choices for their children in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Living in North Idaho, Halloween looks different from year to year based on our weather, particularly if we get an early snowfall, and many of us pride ourselves on being adaptable to change.

As you consider ways to make this Halloween night magical for your little ones, be sure to take common-sense precautions in light of the pandemic. While the COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available for ages 5-12 in a matter of weeks, with Idaho’s low vaccination rate and reports of breakthrough infections in adults and more infections among children, it’s wise to continue to mask and social distance in crowds.

We hope you’ll follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics as you plan your family’s activities.

  • Keep up with the social distancing recommendations. One great way to do this is through an outdoor costume parade, with treats offered at outdoor tables that eliminate the need to go up to a door or inside an entryway.
  • Consider a virtual party. While we all have Zoom fatigue to some degree, it’s a great way to show off your cute or scary costumes to family members who live far away.
  • Make treats at home. Whether you have a small gathering of vaccinated or masks friends or family over or just enjoy with your immediate household, making a “feet loaf” or “cake eyeballs” the Internet provides endless ideas and inspiration that is sure to impress your children.
  • Mask up to trick-or treat. Not all costumes require masks, but they should this year. If you plan to go door-to-door, it’s wise for adults and children, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask and maintain a social distance.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Offer pre-packed treat bags to minimize the objects touched. It’s not entirely clear if COVID-19 is spread this way, but to be safe, you can consider pre-packaging bags of goodies for the neighborhood children, or even wiping down the spoils of your children’s efforts with a sanitizing cloth or letting them sit out for a couple of days before being eaten.
  • Wash your hands often, still. Hand sanitizer is a must if you do plan to go door-to-door.
  • Decorate pumpkins outside instead of trick-or-treating.
  • Mark costumes with reflective tape to make sure drivers and bicyclists can see children if they are out and about after night.
  • Consider non-edible treats that are safe for children with food allergies or who may be at risk for choking. The Food Allergy Research & Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project offers many options.

Have a safe and happy Halloween and enjoy North Idaho’s beautiful autumn.

Dr. Anthony Rehil-Crest is the Vice President of Medical Services at Heritage Health, where he directs clinical care across four medical offices and supports more than 45 healthcare providers. He holds a Masters in Public Health through the University of Washington and is board-certified in Internal Medicine. He’s worked with Heritage Health since 2014.

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