Halloween 2020 is shaping up to be quieter than a graveyard at midnight. Thanks to COVID-19, many of the ghosts, princesses, zombies and Spider-Men who normally prowl America’s neighborhoods scaring up treats will be home with Mom and Dad, carving pumpkins and watching scary movies.

At least that is what US households told the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. The NORC survey found that only 12% of families intend to let their children trick-or-treat or attend parties -- half of last year’s All Hallows Eve visitors. Those who do venture out will find that 25% of families have not given up the ghost on dishing out goodies to the witches and vampires who haunt their doorsteps. But that is still 13% fewer than last year.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has required remote learning in most of the country, 36% of parents of school-age children said their child will not have a school-based Halloween party. Only 14% of parents said their child will attend a less-than-spooktacular remote Halloween celebration.

“Halloween has long been the highlight of the school year for children and it is a way that schools engage and build ties with parents,” Jennifer Hamilton, NORC’s vice president of education and child development, said in a press release. “The loss of a costume parade or a classroom party with spooky snacks is one more sign of the sad reality that 2020 has brought. Missing out on Halloween festivities is a reminder of the role that schools play in our kids’ rituals and traditions and the disruption that COVID-19 continues to have in the United States.”

As dispirited as children are, the pandemic has also spooked adults. Last year 37% of adults planned to attend a Halloween party. Not this year. That number this year is buried at just 15%.

“In many places, Halloween is a community event that brings together friends, family, schools and neighbors,” Shazia Miller, senior vice president of NORC’s education and child development department said in the release release. “Like many things in 2020, COVID-19 will disrupt this cultural celebration and represents another loss of community during the pandemic.”

Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist, book author, and playwright. His work has appeared in national and regional magazines and newspapers.