One of my fondest childhood memories of Christmas was sitting down on my Dad’s lap at his work computer and watching the NORAD Santa Tracker.  NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve flight since 1955, and this year will be no different.

This year has altered many traditions, but Santa will still be delivering presents (and, according to NORAD, will even stop by the International Space Station this year!)  NORAD tracks Santa via satellite and, according to top officials, coordinates with his Elf Launch Staff to watch him take his annual sleigh ride.

A lot of kids are wondering how Santa’s trip might be affected by Covid-19, so we at the Grand Geek Gathering did some research to find out, including calling the North Pole to speak with one of Santa’s top elves.

First, kids want to know if Santa can get sick.  The short answer is, no.  Back in November, Dr. Fauci confirmed with USA Today that Santa has “a lot of good innate immunity.”  He and Mrs. Claus have naturally occurring Santabodies (sorry) that keep them healthy, so they can’t get sick; they have been alive for hundreds of years and they are very tough from living at the North Pole.

In Denmark, Santa enjoyed visiting kids safely from a big snow globe.

But why, then, is Santa wearing masks, and why can’t you sit on his lap?  There are two answers.  One is that Santa’s elves can still get sick.  (According to Santa, this has been hard on the elves; they love hugging each other.)  Santa wants to make sure he keeps his elves safe.  The other reason is that Santa likes to display good behavior so that more people can end up on the “nice” list.  Santa knows social distancing is hard and sometimes masks are annoying, but he wants to show others how it’s done, which is why this year, if you visit him, you might see him in a snow globe, or have to sit six feet away from him.  (You might also want to call him on Zoom, or send him a letter through the post office.)

Last week, to be extra safe, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that he personally went to the North Pole to give Santa one of the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.  Santa knows getting shots isn’t fun but, as usual, he likes to model “nice” behavior and show kids how to be brave.  He also wants to make sure he’s protecting his elves.  Since October, the CDC has discussed giving Santa’s helpers the first round of vaccines to make sure Christmas goes as smoothly as possible.

In an interview with the BBC, Santa reassured kids of the precautionary measures he will be taking as he moves between houses.  This includes lots of disinfecting (Santa-tizing), wearing a mask, and social distancing.  (You can help Santa social distance by going to bed early so he has more room to move around in your house.)  The toys made by Santa’s elves were wrapped two weeks ago, and everyone who wrapped them disinfected their hands; the toys were loaded onto the sled two weeks in advance to make sure they are clean and safe for kids to play with on Christmas day.

Because of all of Santa’s precautionary measures, all of the governments in the world have allowed him to move without any restrictions, deeming his actions “essential” or “key.”  Ireland was one of the first to make this declaration, with the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs addressing Parliament in a statement that deemed Santa’s travel movements essential.  Although most agreed that Santa doesn’t have to self-isolate for two weeks before Christmas, Santa himself says he will.  (This is very easy to do at the North Pole!)

The Head Public Relations Elf at Santa’s workshop also reassured us that Santa will be on time this year, stating, “This is not Santa’s first sleigh ride. [He] wants us all to get through this safely, and we will. [He’s] proud of [the children] for taking care of each other.  Keep up the good work!”

With special thanks to Santa and his elves for taking time to speak to us.