Tag Archives: CDC guidelines for COVID

Alternatives to Trick or Treating 

By Tracey Dowdy

By most accounts, Halloween is 2020’s latest victim. The CDC has posted their Holiday Celebration guidelines to recommend that you not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. Some areas have canceled trick or treating because of the pandemic. 

Whether you’ve decided not to trick or treat because you don’t feel comfortable with the possibility of exposing your family or even if that decision has been made for you, there are still safe ways to have fun with your little monsters on Halloween. 

Boo your friends.  

Instead of going to a friend’s or a neighbor’s house to get candy, drop off some treats! Choose mini pumpkins, Halloween decorations, stickers, pencils, packaged candy, or treats. Do a quick ding dong dash and leave the surprise at their door. You can make it an anonymous note and encourage them to pass the fun along to others. *Note, some people are wary of home-baked goods right now, so stick to pre-packaged items if you’re unsure. 

Go on a ghost hunt. 

Ever been on a ghost hunt? Sound too scary? Not if you put a twist on an Easter Egg hunt and instead hide little ghosts around your house. Wrap candy or other Halloween themed treats in tissue paper, gather it around the candy or prize, tie it with a little orange ribbon, and draw a friendly little ghost face on it. Double the fun by turning down the lights and searching with a flashlight or adding glowsticks to the “ghost’s” hiding place. 

Go on a spooky scavenger hunt. 

Instead of going house to house, hide treats and prizes around your home, outside, or at a nearby trail. Give your little goblin clues and help them search for the items. If you’re searching in the dark, inexpensive glow sticks go a long way in making the hunt more fun.

Host a virtual Halloween party. 

Though the thought of anything involving screen time may make you scream, a virtual Halloween party can help fill in some of the socialization and unstructured friend-time your little witch or wizard is missing. Coordinate with family or friends, wear costumes, and have a “best costume” contest, do a Halloween themed craft, decorate cookies, carve pumpkins, or even watch a spooky movie “together.”  Here’s a list of age-appropriate choices.  

Do a trick or treat drive-by – think of it as reverse trick or treating. 

Instead of kids going house to house, talk to your neighbors about setting a specific time for kids to wait in their front yards and have adults drive by and gently toss candy or treat bags to them. 

Tell ghost stories.  

Remember being at camp when you were a kid, sitting around a fire, telling ghost stories? Recreate that feeling around a fire pit or even a flashlight. Tell your favorite – age-appropriate obviously – spooky or silly Halloween stories, and encourage your littles to make one up to share too. Drink some apple cider, eat caramel apples, or dip into your candy stash, and have a good old’ device-free frighteningly good time. 

Halloween will certainly be different for little ones this year, but remember, your children mirror your attitudes. If you complain and mope about Halloween being ruined this year, your kids will pick up on that and have a miserable evening. If however, you decide that different can still be fun, there’s no end to the memories you can make.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

COVID-19 Back to School Checklist

By Tracey Dowdy

The Spring semester played out much differently than most of us anticipated, and despite our hope to the contrary, things are still somewhat uncertain as we kick off the 2020-21 school year. If your school district is offering in-person learning, the prospect of sending your child into a classroom this Fall may be daunting. 

But, rest assured, there are steps you can take that coupled with the precautions being put in place by administrators and teachers, will ensure your child is as safe as possible. 

Don’t send your child to school sick.  While this may seem like an obvious statement, it’s not uncommon for parents to send sick kids to school. The CDC has a checklist for parents that includes which symptoms to look for before you make your decision. Michael LaSusa, superintendent of schools in Chatham, New Jersey says, “First and foremost, parents should not send any child who is symptomatic of illness to school. This means that parents should develop a routine for quickly checking their child for fever in the morning and also confirm that their child does not have a cough or any other sign of illness. If a child does have a fever, the parent should not give the child fever-reducing medication and send her/him off to school, but instead, be sure to keep the child home.”

Backpack backpack. While classroom management can be difficult under normal circumstances, this year will prove even more of a challenge. School districts across the country have asked parents to provide their own school supplies as children will not have access to communal supplies. If you or someone you know is struggling to provide supplies, follow this link for a list of resources in your area.

Sanitize and mask up. Depending on your child’s age and cognitive ability, the prospect of them keeping a mask on all day may make you laugh harder than any stand-up routine. Do your best to model appropriate mask-wearing and encourage your child to wear their mask if they’re going to be in close proximity to others, such as on the bus. If possible, send them to school with at least two in case one gets dirty or breaks – you know they’re going to play with them and it’s not a matter of if but of when they’re going to break. It’s a good idea to ease them into wearing one for extended periods of time if they aren’t in the habit,” LaSusa says. “Parents should gradually build up face-covering ‘endurance’ in their children by having them wear a face covering for longer and longer periods of time. If a child spends zero time during the day right now in a face covering, then that child will have a tough time spending four hours wearing one when September rolls around. We need to build up this endurance gradually.” 

One thing that most children can comprehend is the importance of clean hands, whether through hand washing or using hand sanitizer. Look for brands that are at least 60% or higher alcohol-based, which kills most types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Maintain your safer-at-home protocols. Though it may seem excessive and like adding a greater burden on already struggling families, having your kids wash their hands and change out of school clothes as soon as they get home to keep your home as clean and safe as possible. “When children return from school they should immediately sanitize their hands,” advises board-certified pediatrician Dr. Candice W. Jones. “At the very least they should remove clothes/shoes and place them in the laundry or in a designated safe place for disinfecting. A shower would be great, but is not absolutely necessary.”

Stay positive.  Noreen Lazariuk, superintendent of the Sussex Charter School for Technology in Sparta, New Jersey says, “My advice is to stay positive. As parents, you are constantly teaching your children. Your example is one they are exposed to more than any classroom or teacher. If your children hear you speaking optimistically about the school year they will adopt that attitude.”

LaSusa adds, “I think we all need to maintain a sense of flexibility and patience, and also recognize that students are going to need some time to reacclimate to school, especially when the adults in their school are wearing masks and the whole environment looks different. We need to adjust the expectations we have for children and meet them where they are, not where we think they ‘should’ be.”

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.