Halloween is days away as Kentucky and Tennessee face new COVID-19 case surges, and some college students have decided not to participate in normal festivities and parties, fearing a COVID-19 case spike on their campuses following the holiday.
Ashanta Johnson, a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Martin, said she doesn’t plan to attend any off-campus events or parties, although her friends might. Johnson said some students have made Halloween an excuse to gather since they have not experienced a traditional college semester due to COVID-19 precautions.
“I think now it’s becoming, ‘Like, well you know if we’re gonna get it, we’re gonna get it anyway.' It’s not right that they say it, but people will find any reason to try to do stuff like that in a time like this when most people shouldn’t be [partying].”
Johnson thinks the weeks following Halloween will dramatically increase the amount of positive cases on UT Martin’s campus. On Oct. 26 UT Martin reported 116 people were either isolated with COVID-19 or quarantined from potential exposure, down from 148 people isolated or quarantined on Oct. 21.
“Nobody’s really listening, and it’s bad because it’s the people on campus that are just like, ‘Oh no, we're gonna try to be safe. They want us to wear masks and stuff,’” Johnson said. “But at the same time, they’re gonna go out that night and just do whatever.”
She also worries UT Martin won’t have enough space to isolate COVID-19 positive students after a potential spike in cases following Halloween, and doesn’t think the university will even have in-person classes next semester.
Mikiyah Mitchell, a freshman at the University of Louisville, also doesn’t plan on attending any Halloween parties off campus.
“Due to me being hours away from my family, I do not have any plans with my family. I will also be social distancing on Halloween night as well due to coronavirus on campus,” she said.
Mitchell doesn’t think parties in Louisville will be socially distanced and expects many college students not to wear masks with their costumes. Although Mitchell would like to experience the typical college Halloween experience, she realizes she could put herself and others in danger.
"I’ve handled it pretty well. It’s been a little different. The experience has been weird, but it’s a part of staying safe,” she said.
Mitchell believes UofL has taken this semester seriously amid the pandemic and is cautious of students who leave and return to campus.
“I think they’re doing an okay job. They do make us take tests every time we come back,” Mitchell said. “If we have a long break, like Labor Day weekend, we have to get tested. They stay on top of us about that,” Mitchell said.
Precious Lynch, a senior at Murray State University, does not plan to go out on Halloween, but looks forward to planning a movie night with her friends and family.
Lynch said some faculty and staff have promoted social distancing and advised students in her classes not to attend gatherings off campus that do not follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order against mass gatherings.
“I think that some students have been listening, but at the end of the day, some students are going to do what they want to do,” Lynch said.“But, I feel like the majority on Murray State’s campus have listened to that because I haven’t seen any social media post flying around about a Halloween party.”
Although MSU requires students to wear face coverings and masks on campus, Lynch believes that won’t stop people from doing the opposite off campus.
“Some of them might think, ‘Oh well, I’m already here with a bunch of people, so why wear a mask?’”
Lynch also believes Murray State will take precautionary safety measures if there is an increase in coronavirus cases on campus after Halloween.
“Resulting from how long we’ve been here on campus, I feel like they’re doing a good job. Murray State will continue to do that and above if there is a tremendous spike in cases,” Lynch said.