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This is our new weekly pandemic feature: Is It Safe, where we ask you what you’re comfortable with in the age of COVID-19, and what you aren’t. Read our primer to understand the concept. And email me your thoughts at williamfleitch@yahoo.com. This week: Halloween.

We are just more than a week away from a Halloween unlike any other. While adults experience Halloween parties as a way to wear tight clothes while drinking with strangers — something one would hope is being avoided this year — this is, at its core, a holiday for children. As the parent of a third grader and a first grader, I’ve been hearing about how desperately they’re looking forward to Halloween since last Halloween. People give you candy, you get to pretend you’re somebody else for a night, you get to stay up late … it’s the perfect kid holiday.

But COVID is here, and many cities and municipalities have canceled Halloween this year. The holiday does not necessarily require an official endorsement, of course, but it’s a question every family is asking right now: Should we do Halloween this year? In this week’s installment of Is It Safe? I want to look at it from a personal standpoint. What are the arguments for going? What are the arguments against it? Last week, I asked you for your thoughts on the matter. Having read through all of them, these are the best arguments for each side.

PRO

  1. It’s outside, and it’s very easy to keep distance from everyone involved. By all accounts, outdoor activities are far safer at reducing virus transmission than indoor activities, and there isn’t much more “outdoor” than trick-or-treating: By definition, you never go inside. It is not difficult for a family to go up to a front door, take some candy left outside by a neighbor, wave to them from the porch or front steps and then go onto the next house. “This isn’t difficult,” one respondent said. “This is about a thousand times safer than eating inside at a restaurant, and you see that on every street corner every day of the year.” This was a common refrain: “This is a socially distanced activity by design,” one said. “People are being ridiculous.”

CON

  1. It’s a gathering. Gatherings are inherently dangerous. Many cities and states have rules against any gathering of 50 or more people, and that is exactly what Halloween is: A gathering. People will come from all over, converge, and then leave, taking with them whatever they picked up along the way. The virus is running rampant across the country right now, and just because you don’t want it to be at your Halloween doesn’t mean it isn’t. There is very little chance that someone, someone, in the gathering of people at your Halloween doesn’t have COVID-19. If we’re ever going to get out of this, we have to stop these very activities to slow the spread. “I love Halloween too,” one parent said. “But if we don’t get this under control, we might miss next Halloween. Now is the exactly the time to avoid gatherings like this.”

Ultimately, I trust my children, and my wife’s and my stewardship of them, to be smart enough to pick the right houses and make the right choices. My kids have been through so much: I’m gonna let them be Batman and Nick Chubb for the night. But yeah: We’re going to be careful. And it certainly won’t be a “normal” Halloween.

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But is it safe? I don’t know the answer. It’s an excellent question. Which is why, after all, I am asking.

And now we give you next week’s question: Should you send your young children (ages K-6) back to school, if they have the option, or should you have them stay virtual? Email me at williamfleitch@yahoo.com your thoughts and answers to the question of the week. You can also leave your responses in the Responses. The simple question: Would you send your elementary-school-aged children back to school now if you have that option? And why, or why not?

I’ll cull the best answers and they’ll serve as the backbone of next Friday’s piece. So tell me what’s on your mind. I don’t have all the answers. That’s why I need yours.

Will Leitch will be writing multiple pieces a week for Medium. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family, and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel “How Lucky,” released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.

Written by

Writer, New York, NYT, MLB, WaPo, others. Founder, Deadspin. Author of four books, with fifth, “How Lucky,” coming May 2021. https://williamfleitch.substack.com

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