I’ll choose to collect treats with a mask

Junior+Grace+Min+poses+with+junior+Stacy+Kim+in+their+matching+Halloween+costumes+as+the+Fireside+Girls+on+Oct.+29.

Image used with permission from Grace Min

Junior Grace Min poses with junior Stacy Kim in their matching Halloween costumes as the Fireside Girls on Oct. 29.

Grace Min

Doors shut. Lights off. Empty candy bowls. 

This was what the typical house looked like in the formerly festive Halloween season of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the percentage of people who planned to go trick-or-treating last year dropped from 29% in 2019 to 23%, according to an annual National Retail Federation survey.

I was a part of that 6% difference last year because my family did not feel safe going door to door since COVID-19 vaccinations were not yet introduced, and the spread of the virus was more prevalent. 

However, as the number of people vaccinated increases and the world opens back up, more people, including myself, feel safe enough to return to the trick-or-treating Halloween tradition. 

Since my family decided to celebrate by watching a scary movie in our front yard last year, I can not wait any longer to walk around the neighborhood, knock on doors and collect candy in my pillow case for the first time since the pandemic. 

Nonetheless, I think everyone who plans to go trick-or-treating should wear a mask, especially because the tradition involves interacting with multiple unfamiliar families. Since there would be no way of knowing if someone is vaccinated or not, exercising caution around strangers, or even acquaintances, should not be forgotten. 

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] condoning not wearing masks in outdoor settings, trick-or-treating almost always draws crowds of people within 6 feet of each other, so it would be better for people to keep masks on since social distancing protocols might be hard to practice; this should apply to everyone regardless of their vaccination status because even those who have been vaccinated can contract the virus, according to the CDC.

Even if people choose not to wear masks, they should make an effort to social distance by taking turns going up to front doors, avoiding close contact with others and keeping a distance of 6 feet between themselves and the people distributing candy. Since social distancing requires the cooperation of all families, trick-or-treaters should wait until crowds in front of doors die down before they collect the sweets themselves.

A major factor that influenced my return to trick-or-treating, and maybe everyone else’s, was the public statement made by Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, who said kids should be able to go trick-or-treating this Halloween with a couple of caveats. These warnings include abiding by the standard COVID-19 protocols, which encourage mask-wearing, social distancing and limiting crowds.

My family and I plan to follow these guidelines — even though we are vaccinated — especially since we do not trick or treat in our area. We celebrate Halloween with my cousins in their neighborhood, so my mom reminded me, “I don’t want any of us getting sick, so let’s keep our masks on while trick-or-treating this year because we’ll be surrounded by a lot of unfamiliar people.” 

Wearing masks on Halloween will be crucial for preventing the spread of the virus, especially with children and teenagers who have to worry about in-person school attendance as well as adults who go into work. 

As an athlete, I understand the importance of staying COVID-free to continue playing school sports; therefore, students who plan to celebrate Halloween must consider the consequences if they choose to disregard safety protocols.  

Knowing that mask-wearing will be effective in preventing people’s respiratory droplets from reaching others, according to the CDC, I believe it is critical to keep face coverings on because I, as well as any other student athletes, want to keep playing our sport. 

Even for non-athletes, kids want to maintain their in-person school life — which I have learned not to take for granted after a whole year of distance learning — so practicing mask-wearing protocol on a major holiday like Halloween is a way to ensure our utmost safety.  

For many, including myself, the most exciting part of the night will be participating in the costume-wearing tradition, so the concern about masks ruining the concept of some outfits might be valid; however, masks are small and already a commonplace in Halloween costumes, which will make it easy for us to incorporate them into ensembles without spoiling our ideas.

The holiday provides an unlimited opportunity of creativity for people to get crafty with their face coverings: if people want to keep it simple, a solid-colored mask that matches their costume could easily work; for those who wish to go all out for Halloween, they have the artistic freedom to decorate their coverings however they please. 

This year, I am dressing up as one of the Fireside Girls from the show “Phineas and Ferb.” The costume entails a brown skirt, burnt orange polo shirt and a matching sash, so I plan on using a brown mask with small Girl Scout badges attached. 

For people who prefer to buy their Halloween ensemble, complementing face coverings can be found on platforms such as Etsy, Depop or even Amazon; for those who like to make their own costume, creating an extra facial accessory will not require that much extra time and energy, so masks conflicting with costumes should not be a major issue. 

Plus, throughout the course of the pandemic, people have found ways to add their own flair to the new closet staple, so it will not be difficult to either buy or make a mask that matches a costume. 

If those who are vaccinated, like me, feel comfortable enough to walk around without a mask on, that is up to them; however, I do not want to run the risk of coming in close contact with someone who is not vaccinated, might have a small cold or even have COVID-19.

Even though I want to have fun celebrating Halloween, I want to ensure that I do everything I can to protect both me and my family’s health. 

It would be really unfortunate if I, or someone in my family, were to contract the coronavirus from someone in the neighborhood who was not taking precautions to protect themselves and others from the persevering virus.

So, in order to keep the innocently frightful festivities of Halloween, those who plan to participate in the trick-or-treating tradition must abide by COVID-19 protocols to scare away the coronavirus from our communities.