How COVID-Conscious Was Halloween?

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Among students, Halloween has been a favorite occasion to celebrate together in large gatherings. The holiday’s best-known tradition—dressing up—requires an audience. With rising COVID-19 cases across the country, and especially in Chicago, students realized this year was going to be different, but what would Halloween during a pandemic look like? In the current environment, one individual’s actions affect many more people in the Latin community than just themselves and their families.

Before Halloween, the administration sent various reminders to abide by the Community Pledge signed by students and their families. Head of School Randall Dunn shared an email on October 30 urging students to avoid assembling in large groups over the holiday weekend. “Latin does not condone student parties, particularly during the pandemic,” he wrote.

Junior Caroline Cruz said, “I would read [the emails from the school] and think that in order to stay healthy and safe I must be wary of where I go and who I hang out with.”

But sophomore Daniel Braun questioned whether the school’s cautionary note had this desired effect on everyone. “I think that Latin’s remarks may have deterred some students from gathering in groups, although I feel that they did not outline any punishments for those who did not follow the guidelines. Since they did not do this I think it may have been less effective than they hoped.”

Senior Tara Walsh said that “Latin has no jurisdiction over kids outside of school, so I don’t think that some kids really listen. I know many individuals in my grade decided to go out.” She added, “I am disappointed in my grade for the lack of compassion for the lives of others.” Although many people decided to go out on Halloween, it’s still not clear whether they followed the administration’s suggested guidelines based on the CDC’s recommendations. Those guidelines suggested that participants wear masks, stay socially distanced, gather only outdoors where there is more ventilation, and limit the number of participants.

A short anonymous survey conducted by The Forum found that, out of 197 participants, the majority of students (49.7%) didn’t attend a gathering over the weekend. For those that did, 31% of people gathered in groups with one to five other people. And 1.5% of students surveyed met with more than 15 people. Although avoiding gatherings altogether is the safest measure, limiting the number of people in individual gatherings is also helpful to slowing the spread.

How many students who did attend gatherings specifically took COVID-19 precautions? The data revealed that the majority of students who attended gatherings wore masks (63.6%) and stayed outside (54.9%). Only 9.6% of students say they didn’t take any precautions to stop the spread. With 197 responses, the survey represents roughly 40% of the Upper School student body..

After examining the survey results, sophomore Hugh McKee said, “I think they were COVID-conscious, or at least enough.” The safest measure to take would have been to not attend gatherings at all, and the majority of students did just that. For the ones that did choose to go out, many did the next best thing, which was to take precautions. “I think our community does a pretty good job at keeping everyone safe,” Hugh said.