The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world through its impact on every individual in society in every aspect of life including the way we work, learn, worship, travel, shop, interact, live and celebrate holidays. While Halloween may be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are ways to engage in holiday traditions, while being careful to keep everyone safe.

Experts advise that this Halloween, children and adults should avoid large gatherings, maintain a distance of six

feet from others, wear cloth face coverings, and wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer appropriately.

We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes, but we do know the more people you interact with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts the higher potential risk of you becoming infected with COVID-19 and of COVID-19 spreading among attendees.

If the exchange of treats occurs in a community, families should be careful to avoid groups or clustering at doorsteps or at any other place. Residents who wish to hand out treats should consider sitting outdoors, wearing cloth face coverings with hand sanitizer available. Prepacked treat bags is the preferred method to distribute candy.

The role of touching objects in the spread of COVID-19 is not yet clear at this point, but to be on the safe side, however The American Academy of Pediatrics advises,

“if your child collects treats from a few, socially distanced neighbors, you may want to wipe the packages with a sanitizing cloth or let them sit for a couple of days before the child can access them”.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers additional tips to help children enjoy a healthy, safe Halloween:

• Meet with friends virtually and show off costumes. Have fun with it! In cold climates, this may be the first time your child can wear a costume that isn’t buried under a parka.

• When planning a costume, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats. If children plan to use their cloth face coverings as part of their costume, they should not paint them, as some paints contain toxins.

• Celebrate with a movie night and dress as your favorite characters. Do this as a family at home or consider letting your child watch with their friends while video chatting, with everyone starting the movie at the same time.

Avoid crowds and clustering and follow safe distance rules even when outdoors.

• Decorate pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.

• If children are outdoors, consider marking their costumes with reflective tape. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame. Remind children to be careful around cars, as drivers may not see them. Remind them also to wash hands really well when you return home.

• Consider offering non-edible goodies to friends and family such as a small toy or a game. Halloween is one of the trickiest days of the year for children with food allergies. Food Allergy Research & Education's Teal Pumpkin Project http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project , promotes safe trick-or-treating options for food-allergic children and suggests handing out non-food items. Make sure the items do not pose choking hazards for young children.

As you strike the balance between having fun and being safe, the decisions you make will have a ripple effect beyond your own families. Remember, a safe Halloween is a happy Halloween!

Families planning to participate in activities off the installation are encouraged to review CDC Halloween guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html.