UVM Police cracking down on party enforcement this Halloween

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 8:29 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 29, 2020 at 8:40 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The University of Vermont Police already work with the community to make sure students are safe during Halloween weekend, but this year they are doubling down because of the pandemic.

When Halloween falls in the middle of the week, students say that typically means two weekends of celebrations. But this year it falls on a Saturday, meaning UVM Police are taking note, but students we spoke with say they haven’t heard much.

“Personally, I haven’t heard of any parties," said Connor Aitchison, a senior at UVM.

After walking the Old North End and coming across UVM students, students tell us they are expecting a Halloween unlike in years past.

“I’m sure the bars will be open with limited capacity but I haven’t heard of many parties," said Grace Kay, a senior at UVM.

Kay says this year is different because UVM has been doing so well in minimizing positive COVID-19 cases. And after hearing about other college outbreaks, students say it isn’t worth the risk.

“Yeah, just last night I heard about St. Mike’s kinda blowing up and obviously none of us want that to happen at UVM, so I’m really grateful we are staying open so far, so we obviously want to keep doing that," said Oliver Hays, a senior at UVM.

“I know St. Mike’s just had an outbreak, so I know our school is trying to crack down,” said Aitchison.

“But we are at the end of October, and we have done well and most places haven’t. And that’s not to say it could spike tomorrow," UVM Police Chief Tim Bilodeau said.

That spike is what they are trying to avoid.

UVM just passed the 100,000 test threshold with a positivity rate of 0.01%, a number they are proud of. But Halloween is coming, so although Chief Bilodeau is optimistic, he knows he has to stay vigilant

“We’re looking for specific things around groups, and we are encouraging people to pay particular attention to confined spaces and indoor spaces,” said Bilodeau.

The chief says in a typical year they step up patrols but also rely on collaboration with the school as well as Burlington Police. But this year they have also decided to get more proactive with the help of the Community Coalition in Burlington.

The coalition is made up of students, school staff and community members.

“Taking information down about a party that might be a few days out. So we will just go out, reach out to them, even in the neighborhood, and say, ‘Hey, not a good idea,’" said Bilodeau.

And Bilodeau says they have already made several proactive visits to homes in anticipation of the holiday.

So despite what students we spoke with say, some may still try.

But students like Aitchison say one year without Halloween parties could mean finishing his senior year in the Queen City.

“I think every student can take one year off from partying for Halloween just so we can get through the school year and don’t have to get shut down again," said Aitchison.

Other students we spoke with say their plan is to have a more intimate get-together with friends they have been hanging out with all semester to keep themselves and their peers safe.

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