Students and staff participate in COVID-friendly fall activities


Students visit the Heinz Orchard in Libertyville. Photo courtesy of Anjali Parande

As the weather starts getting colder and Oct. 31 gets closer, many people’s minds drift to seasonal activities such as Fright Fest or haunted houses. However, this fall, due to COVID-19 restrictions in place, activities are going to look a little different for students and their families. Before the pandemic hit, fall was full of community activities like Oktoberfest and costume parades. 

“We would just be out and about in the community all the time,” Mrs. Eileen Baranyk, an AP World History teacher, said about her family’s pre-COVID fall habits. 

Obviously, this is no longer possible since the majority of traditional events such as these have been canceled. Fortunately, most activities can be modified to be possible while staying safe. In a survey from TSP, 86.8% of the 55 respondents said that they have been able to modify fall activities.

“Every year, my kids and I would go out to Woodstock, and we would go to one of the big apple picking and pumpkin farms,” Mrs. Amanda Carroll, an AP Government teacher, said. “Instead of going to one of the big places this year, we instead went local to the Heinz orchard… [it] was definitely less crowded.”

Scaling down activities in order to be around fewer people is a common theme among students but many choose to modify activities in order to stay home entirely. Morgan Udvance (10) said that rather than going out to be with her friends at parties or events, she now hangs out with them online. 

“A few other kids in the neighborhood that I’m on a fantasy football team with watch some of the football games [together] and then [we] text each other during it,” Udvance said. 

Mrs. Baranyk has been doing something similar, and instead of taking her kids to the park for playdates, she hosts them at home in her backyard. 

“That’s become kind of my new favorite thing because we can limit how many people we’re around, and we can control the environment and the distancing,” Mrs. Baranyk said.

Outdoor activities have also become increasingly popular. 72.2% of VHHS students in the survey said that taking a walk or being outside was their favorite COVID-friendly activity. 

“I’ve noticed, in my neighborhood, a lot more kids outside biking and playing in the street,” Mrs. Carroll said. “Some of the places that we used to go and bike have become pretty crowded, so I’m noticing that people who maybe didn’t do those things before are now doing them.”

With everyone being cooped up inside due to e-learning, it’s clear why people want to get outside. Many are involved in outdoor fall sports or are going outside to participate in the activities that allow social distancing, such as biking or apple picking.

Though this fall looks very different from years past, the community is adapting and finding ways to enjoy the autumn weather.