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City council postpones decision on trick-or-treating

BUCKHANNON – Trick-or-treat?

This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s more of an unanswered question than a demand at the front door for fun-size candy.

At its most recent meeting Oct. 1, Buckhannon City Council opted to postpone scheduling trick-or-treat on Halloween, which falls on Saturday, Oct. 31, until its next council meeting Thursday, Oct. 15.

Mayor Robbie Skinner said the recent spike in COVID-19 cases gave him pause. Case numbers continued the upward trend over the weekend when Upshur County turned red on the revised West Virginia Department of Education’s School Alert Map Saturday indicating substantial community transmission.

Skinner said after consulting with Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department Nurse Director Sue McKisic and local safety and emergency planning expert Dr. Jeffery Harvey, he’d like to hold off on setting a time for trick-or-treating until council can reassess the situation locally in two weeks.

“About a week ago, it was my recommendation that we just set a time and date for trick-or-treat and just let it go on,” Skinner said at council’s Thursday meeting. “As the week has progressed, I think that’s irresponsible of us. I think if we were in the green, it would be more than understandable for us to have a citywide and countywide trick-or-treat and allow it to be as normal as it could possibly be.”

Skinner said he wanted to clarify the city hasn’t made a decision on trick-or-treating yet.

“At this point, it is going to be my recommendation that we do not set trick-or-treat at this council meeting, but we hold off two weeks, and we re-evaluate and see what the numbers look like in our community at our October 15 meeting,” he said. “As many of us know our community is facing a little bit of a spike right now, and it has reached our school system as well.”

“I want to be very clear – we’re not canceling trick or treat,” Skinner added. “We’re not saying we’re not going to have trick-or-treat. We are going to monitor the numbers very closely, and we are going to work with our county commissioners because there is also trick-or-treat in the county outside of corporate limits as well.”

The Upshur County Commission is slated to discuss setting a date and time for countywide trick-or-treating at its next meeting Thursday, Oct. 8, according to an agenda sent out Tuesday afternoon.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh said she concurred with Skinner, and city recorder Randy Sanders called postponing the decision “the prudent thing to do.”

“I think we have to look at this with a clear mind,” he said. “Yes, we want to say, ‘go out and have fun,’ but most importantly, we want children to remain healthy and this is more than a little spike – this is an attention-getter and possibly a wakeup call.”

Trunk-or-treat, which typically takes place in the Public Safety Complex, has been canceled this year but will return in 2021. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is classified as a ‘higher risk activity.’

The CDC suggests some ‘moderate’ and ‘lower risk’ activities, including have an open-air costume parade and organizing Halloween scavenger hunts contained to neighborhoods. Read more here.

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