In the words of Cady Heron from “Mean Girls”: “In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up and beg for candy. But in girl world, Halloween is the one time of year a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it.” I would personally like to add one more “girl world” rule for Halloween this year: Wear a mask, or just stay home.
Celebrating Halloween during COVID-19 is tricky enough as it is, and honestly, it’s not cute to be in a crowd of unmasked people who may or may not be vaccinated. Although Halloween may seem like a free pass to dress up, let loose, and ignore health protocols for a night — this couldn’t be further from the truth. FYI: The pandemic doesn’t stop on Halloween just because you want to get dressed up and go to a costume party. We still need to be conscious of our health while celebrating this year and adding a mask to your costume is a simple way to do it.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has completely changed how holidays are being celebrated. In college especially, holidays are the perfect opportunity for themed Greek life events, dorm parties, and other fun activities. However, with a virus still infecting people and no clear end in sight for the ongoing pandemic, maybe it’s time to recognize the risks and sit this Halloween out. Just a year ago, people were put on blast on social media for attending parties and not taking proper precautions due to COVID-19. This year, that mentality seems to have been completely wiped away — it’s almost like we’ve forgotten about it altogether.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I am fully prepared to sit this Halloween out. Even though I am completely vaccinated and always wear a mask (yes, even while outside), I don’t think I’m ready to jump back into this “new normal” routine while ignoring the fact that the virus is still going around. According to public health experts, the best fall and Halloween activities are those that are celebrated outdoors with social distancing — and not to be a hater, but I don’t think any college party meets these requirements.
If you’ve ever been to one, you’ll know that college parties were severe health hazards way before the pandemic started. Between the literal trash cans filled with liquor, the lack of breathing room in crowded frat houses, and the number of random people making out on every surface available, I would not label college students as the most health-conscious. Usually, there are so many people at these parties that the windows even start to fog up, which is straight-up gross and not the Halloween vibe I’m going for. College parties barely even check IDs, let alone vaccination cards. Needless to say, I’m appalled and won’t be attending one of these parties this Halloween.
In fact, last year on Halloween, I did the literal opposite of party. I was living with my grandma and mom in Iowa and attending Zoom University while also trying to keep my long-distance relationship afloat. Attempting to celebrate Halloween in the middle of Iowa is certainly not ideal (unless you’re trying to hang out with scarecrows in cornfields) — plus, at the time, I didn’t want to dress up by myself when I already had the perfect couple’s costume picked out (May Queen and Bear Costume from Midsommar). So, I opted to not celebrate and spent the day watching Gilmore Girls instead.
Another key part of me not celebrating Halloween last year was that I wasn’t vaccinated yet. I wasn’t hanging out with anyone outside of my household, mainly because I didn’t want to get sick and I definitely didn’t want to expose my grandmother to the virus. Even now that I’m vaccinated, I’m still taking precautions — for me, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to this pandemic. Unfortunately, not everyone in my generation shares the same belief, which is evident in recent stats on vaccination statuses among Gen Z.
Although some colleges and universities require students to get vaccinated to create local herd immunity, public health officials still have concerns about young people being reluctant to get vaccinated. According to a 2021 STAT-Harris Poll, 21% of Gen Z said they wouldn’t get vaccinated and another 35% said they would “wait a while and see.” The same survey also revealed that 57% of Gen Z thinks that people their age will not be following COVID-19 precautions strictly. I don’t know about you, but this is the spookiest piece of information I have heard this Halloween season.
If you think that college students won’t be partying on Halloween, think again. In a 2021 Morning Consult survey, researchers found that 77% of Gen Z respondents are enthusiastic to celebrate Halloween this year. Additionally, the survey found that Americans are going to be partying and celebrating Halloween at similar rates to pre-COVID levels. This means that some college students might be getting their fraternity and sorority houses ready for unregulated partying as we speak — meanwhile, I’ll be staying in the safety of my home having a “Halloweentown” marathon far away from thirsty couples making out on the couch.
Despite my concerns about college party health safety, I’m not trying to shame people who are celebrating Halloween this year. If you are going out, at least take some precautions and be mindful that the pandemic is still going on — so maybe opt-out on a drink served from a giant trash can this year. There are so many ways to celebrate Halloween that are socially distanced, whether it be a haunted house, an outside get-together, or a Halloween movie marathon. It’s all about celebrating in a way that feels safest to you.
For safer gatherings, we can all at least try to follow CDC guidelines for small and large gatherings. If you’re hanging out with people you don’t live with, it’s safer to party outside where the space is better ventilated — so, maybe you even consider a spooky maze or a pumpkin patch this year. All I have to say is if you insist on going to a party this Halloween, at least incorporate a mask into your costume. You’ll add a bit of flair to your look and protect yourself from the raging pandemic — AKA the spookiest thing of all.