Celebrating Halloween Safely in Schools and in the Community
Halloween is just around the corner! This year, October 31 falls on a Sunday, which means many schools will be celebrating prior to the weekend. Whether you are wearing a costume to class or trick-or-treating in the community, there are important safety reminders to consider.
HWDSB and City of Hamilton have both shared guidance on how to safely celebrate Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will also find reminders that apply to Halloween celebrations during a typical year, such as guidelines for appropriate costumes. Please familiarize yourself with these safety tips ahead of next week’s festivities.
- Students can wear costumes to school as per prior years practice (e.g., no cultural appropriation, no offensive and insensitive costumes, no weapons, no costume masks that might impede vision, no inappropriate images, etc.)
- Students choosing to wear a costume should come to the school already wearing the costume and keep the costume on for the duration of the day.
- Student costumes must be able to accommodate a face covering as per COVID requirements.
- A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering. A costume mask should not be worn over a non-medical mask or face covering because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
- No costume parades are permitted indoors or outdoors.
- No in-person assemblies are permitted.
- Activities must take place within a student cohort and not involve a mixing of cohorts.
- If classes would like include treats for students during activities, these must only be purchased and individually packaged treats (no home baked foods). There is no need to clean or disinfect pre-packaged treats.
- Maintain safe practices including physical distancing and hand hygiene.
Cultural Appropriation and Costumes:
Cultural appropriation means taking or borrowing a look or trait from a culture that is not your own. Costumes that are based on people’s culture are offensive, harmful and insensitive.
The following are suggested questions, to reflect on when choosing a costume to avoid being disrespectful or offensive:
- Is my costume making fun of a group of people, their culture, religion and/or belief systems?
- Does my costume reinforce jokes and stereotypes about certain groups, cultures, religions and/or belief systems?
- Am I altering my skin color, facial/body features to make it like a particular race, ethnicity, or cultural group?
- Am I dressing up as a culture or borrowing from a religion that is not my own or is not part of my background?
Guidance from City of Hamilton:
To protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities, we must be mindful of the role we all play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is highly transmissible in social settings. One infected person could cause many people in the same social setting to become ill. We urge you to be diligent and follow public health guidance. Learn more about your personal risk level.
If you choose to trick-or-treat door-to-door, you should take precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission:
- Stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild.
- Trick-or-treat outdoors as much as possible.
- If trick-or-treating indoors, maintain physical distancing as much as possible and wear a face covering, especially when physical distancing is a challenge.
- Be creative and build the face covering into your costume, but know that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering, and that a costume mask should not be worn over a non-medical mask or face covering because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.
- Do not crowd doorsteps – Take turns one at a time.
- Do not sing or shout for your treats.
- Keep interactions brief with those giving out treats.
- Use hand sanitizer often, especially before and after handling your face covering, after touching frequently touched surfaces, when you arrive home from trick-ortreating, and before and after handling or eating treats.
- There is no need to clean or disinfect pre-packaged treats.
If you choose to give out treats, you should take precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission:
- Do not participate in Halloween festivities if you have symptoms, even if they are mild.
- Keep interactions with trick-or-treaters short and encourage them to move along after receiving their treat from you.
- Consider wearing a face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained
- If you are dressing up, consider including the face covering as part of your costume.
- Give out only purchased and packaged treats.
- Do not ask trick-or-treaters to sing or shout for their treats.
- Clean your hands often throughout the evening using soap and water or with hand sanitizer.