Considerations around Halloween, equity and COVID-19 safety
October 20, 2021
With Halloween fast approaching, all schools have been asked to consider and revise their plans for Spirit Days, including Halloween. The goal for all Upper Grand District School Board schools is that if Spirit Days are celebrated, they are planned carefully to ensure inclusivity.
Halloween, Spirit Days and Equity:
- As part of the board’s commitment to equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression, staff developed guidelines for schools to use when planning school “Spirit Days” (e.g. Comfy Cozy Day, School Colours Day). All school administrators have been supported in their understanding and use of these guidelines. The purpose of this document is to provide planning requirements to ensure that Spirit Days celebrated in UGDSB schools are inclusive for all students.
- Additionally, all schools have received resources to assist in the planning of Spirit Days, including considerations around Halloween.
- Many schools celebrate Halloween with costume dress-up and/or black and orange events. However, Halloween is a day that is not observed by all students or staff, and with all school Spirit Days, it is a choice if people wish to participate. Schools are to provide alternate and supportive accommodations for students if school events are taking place.
- With regards to costumes, all schools have a responsibility to ensure that school community members avoid using identities and cultures as costumes. This includes appropriative costumes/cultural stereotypes, black/brown face, transphobic costumes, body-shaming and objectifying costumes, and costumes that joke about situations that have caused harm. Such costumes perpetuate stereotypes and can cause harm that can further marginalize and oppress community members.
Health and Safety:
- All of our daily COVID-19 health and safety protocols also apply to Halloween and other special events. Schools have been provided with additional guidelines to address safety protocols related to costumes (where applicable), distribution of food or treats, and emphasized the continued practice of the many layers of protection from the spread of COVID-19, including distancing, wearing a mask, and hand hygiene.
- Schools are encouraged to hold games or activities outdoors instead of indoors, wherever possible.
- As per our mandatory mask policy, students will need to continue to wear a non-medical face mask and this will need to be taken into consideration for any students that may be wearing a costume.
- Students wearing a costume to school will need to wear a costume that does not require frequent touching or adjusting by others, in order to reduce close contact and promote physical distancing.
- If treats are being distributed, in order to limit close contact and sharing of items, “grab-and-go” methods for handling treats is encouraged.
- The sharing of treats and activities will be limited to within class cohorts.
- Students will be asked to practice hand hygiene before and after activities or handling treats.
- Treats are to be consumed in the same manner as other foods during nutrition breaks with students seated and physically distanced when masks are off.