University Urges Students to Stay Safe This Halloween as Coronavirus Pandemic Surges

Keep your Halloween celebration crew to four people or less, wear a mask (yes, even under a costume), and avoid large crowds. Those are just some of the warnings and recommendations in a letter sent Wednesday to students from Kenneth Elmore (Wheelock’87), associate provost and dean of students, who urged them “to act like a global pandemic is happening and on the rise, even in Massachusetts.”

Mirroring a disturbing trend across the country, Massachusetts numbers are rising sharply, leading some experts to recommend that the state slow its reopening plan, the Boston Globe reported Monday. The state had 1,025 new infections and 7 deaths on Tuesday, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Elmore asked students to stop and think about how they plan to spend the weekend—where they plan to go, how long they intend to stay, and how many people will be at the gathering. And then to assess if that plan is risky.

“Keep your crew—including you—to four or fewer people; keep your mask or face-covering tight to your face—a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth or paper mask; limit your time around other people and each other; stay nearby (and skip going to Salem this year); stay away from groups of people and ghouls without face-covering who are standing too close to you; stay outdoors and out of indoor crowded living rooms and basements; and don’t take candy (or anything from strangers),” he wrote. “Just trying to creep it real.”

As he does every year, Elmore cautioned students about drinking, asking them to not overindulge, and to keep tabs on their companions. “There can be a much-needed spirit of community and neighborliness with this time and during this time,” he wrote. “Please keep yourself and each other personally and COVID safe.”

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Elmore’s warning echoed those from other local officials, including Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, and Charlie Baker, Massachusetts governor. Walsh said earlier this week that while the city would allow typical trick-or-treating, they were asking people to find safer alternatives if possible. Baker said he would forego canceling Halloween outright because he thought people would just host indoor parties at their homes, putting them at greater risk for exposure to COVID-19, letting municipalities determine for themselves how to supervise trick or treating.

Halloween is usually one of the biggest social events for students, and the fact that it falls on a Saturday this year will leave many feeling like they’re missing out. So how can they celebrate?

Student Government and F*ck It Won’t Cut It, a student-led public health campaign aimed at keeping the University safe amidst the pandemic, are hosting a virtual University-wide Halloween party Saturday night, featuring a Q&A with comedian Hasan Minhaj (best known for his Netflix special Patriot Act and as a correspondent for The Daily Show), student acts, a scary movie marathon, and free snacks available for pickup. 

F*ck It Won’t Cut It cocreator Hannah Schweitzer (COM’21) says that since many typical Halloween traditions are not COVID-safe, event organizers spent the last month planning this virtual event, dubbed Hasan Saves Halloween.  

Register for the event here. BU Today will have more info about Hasan Saves Halloween, as well as other ways to keep safe and busy this weekend, in Thursday’s “Weekender.” 

“We have the ability to show that young adults are taking the virus seriously, because making even the smallest smart decisions can significantly prevent case numbers from rising,” Schweitzer says. “This holiday weekend in particular, “f*ck it won’t cut it” when it comes to the health and safety guidelines that keep ourselves and our communities healthy.” 

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