Halloween activities are shifting due to the coronavirus pandemic changing how teenagers and families are celebrating the holiday.
The City and County of San Francisco is discouraging trick-or-treating and large indoor parties to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Any gatherings should be outdoors with room for people to stay six feet apart and be limited to three households.
“We are social creatures and we love our friends, we love our family,” LIFE Coordinator Bryan Lorentz said. “During this time we have been asked by not just the government but by people we care about, our family, school administrators, other community members that we look to, to follow clear guidelines about how we should take care of each other in this time.”
During adolescence, the social world and the peer interactions become even more important, according to The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. Not being at school in person and having decreased socialization can affect teenagers.
“I think whether or not teens prefer to be alone or with friends, the pandemic definitely has had a negative affect on mental health,” sophomore Maya Lewis said. “Teens are supposed to be social and spend time with their friends, and if you don’t, I know it can feel pretty depressing.”
Feeling insufficiently connected to others is associated with profound and lasting negative consequences on physical and mental health, according to The Lancet. Students can reach out to the school’s wellness counselors Roberto Parris and Caitlin Walsh, as a resource for assistance.
“By staying home and being safe now, upcoming holidays could be much less restricted,” junior Mia Sassi said. “I think it is about how sometimes we have to do things for others even if we don’t want to.”
Although many will remain at home this Halloween, connecting through social media is a way to stay involved with friends and the school community while respecting the safety of others.
“It is hard and it takes discipline to care for someone by keeping your distance but it is also a practice of self compassion,” Lorentz said. “We don’t want to harm others, we don’t want to harm ourselves and we care for our friends, we care for our community and so we want to be on the same team in that regard.”
Expressing care from a distance on Halloween could be by baking treats for family members or sending a message to a friend celebrating the holiday. Missing out on social events on Halloween might be challenging for some teenagers, according to Lewis.
“I think high schoolers should keep in mind their wider impact on society and understand how their actions could affect lives,” Sassi said. “By staying home on Halloween, you can potentially save lives.”
In addition to protecting the safety of others, when high school campuses reopen for classes is partially determined by how carefully health measures are practiced by all of the community, high schoolers included.
“Even though Halloween is coming up and that is typically a really social holiday where people go door to door in large groups, it is even more important that we don’t partake in such activities even though this is the one time a year where wearing a mask is actually part of the game,” Lorentz said.