Carving pumpkins is a great way to get in the Halloween spirit.

Although the allure of having a normal Halloween is especially strong because of the sheer lack of normalcy lately, many students are changing plans to protect themselves as well as others.

Many students are expected to party regardless of the ongoing threat of the pandemic. Others are deciding that keeping their usual plans this Halloween just isn’t worth the risk of being exposed, and they are changing up their traditions from years past.

Limiting your participating friend group to a few people who you know, being cautious and following all CDC recommended procedures is the best way to avoid being exposed yourself.

Though virtual mediums have become a go-to during COVID-19, they aren’t exactly the most viable option for Halloween-themed festivities. Even the most cautious students are still considering spending the spooky holiday in-person among friends.

“For Halloween, a group of my friends might just get together for a small party,” Thea McCullough (senior, fashion merchandising) said.

She said that they will all dress up, take pictures and then just simply hang out.

“I changed my plans because of COVID,” she said. “I would have gone out to the bars. Now the bars will probably be crowded and a risk for being exposed. I feel like a lot of people this year have no idea what to do. We all are looking to each other to figure out what the move is.”

Students expect that the number of “open” parties will be reduced greatly even though certain areas will more than likely be participating in “closed” parties that only allow well-known individuals. Many fraternities are only allowing members and their associated sororities to participate in their parties.

Despite slightly limiting the partygoers, the odds of a spike in cases at IUP are high.

“I do not think there will be as many ‘open’ parties this year,” McCullough said. “Usually, anywhere you walk, you could stumble across a party. This year, a lot of fraternities are having closed parties the night of Halloween.”

Many students’ plans have been completely canceled, and they are unsure what options they have for celebrating this year. When the usual go-to plan is going to all the parties and showing off your costume, there is little left to do when the smaller personal parties have been canceled and the usually huge parties, hosted by fraternities, are expected to be closed to the general student body.

“I don’t have any plans for Halloween this year,” Cassidy Newman (junior, biology) said. “I usually go to my friend’s house for a Halloween party.”

Many students have changed their plans, not because of cancellations or expectations of no festivities to attend, but because of health concerns, the threat of being exposed and of exposing others. Students are deciding to limit their interactions as much as possible while still trying to enjoy the companies of others.

“My [Halloween] plans are to hang out with my friends and have a small get together,” Isabelle Jabbour (junior, political science) said. “I have had to change my plans due to COVID. If there was not a pandemic, my plans would be different.”

She believes there will definitely be big open parties, but maybe not as much as a usual school year. 

“I think [COVID] cases will definitely spike after Halloween,” she said. People care more about partying than they do their health or social distancing.”

Some students are insistent that not much will change. Many agree that even though the risk of attending parties are still high, many frequent partygoers will disregard the risk and attend the larger celebrations anyway. Since COVID-19 is considered “old news,” students might be disregarding the usual health and safety policies encouraged by the CDC.

“All I know is there’s going to be a couple parties going down even if COVID is here or not,”Aaron Hoda (senior, criminology) said.

“If you look at homecoming, [Halloween] will probably be similar to that. Everyone still partied, but a lot of people knew how to get away with it,” he said “The smart thing to do is just keep it contained in your own house.”

Hoda said he definitely thinks COVID-19 hasn’t stopped any festivities.

“People don’t really care about COVID anymore because it’s not really the main issue we are facing right now in the world, whereas now we’re trying to focus on the election and trying to vote.”

If you plan to carry out your Halloween as usual by partying or going to bars to celebrate, there are plenty of options that can still allow you to keep yourself safe and have your fun at the sametime. Choosing a costume with a CDC approved face mask that you can wear behind or with it is an inarguably smart option.

You can find facemasks online that are Halloween themed and can be worn with a clown costume, a jack-o’-lantern costume, and even a witch costume, among many other choices.

If you choose to go out for Halloween, remember to stay safe.

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