Pack the Purell — Playgrounds are Opening!

The moment our children have been waiting for has come at last: park playgrounds are open!

The moment our kids have been waiting for has come at last! The yellow caution tape is coming down —  park playgrounds are opening in the GTA.

As most of Ontario enters stage 3 (less Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex — but coming soon!), playgrounds across the GTA are reopening, much to the joy of isolated kids. The last four months have been challenging for the kiddos and having access to playgrounds once again will bring back some feelings of normalcy.

While many parents are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the government announces the reopening of park playgrounds, especially those who live in apartments, many are also concerned and wonder if playgrounds are safe. As with all other safety measures we have had to adapt to, the CDC and public health officials are asking parents to educate their kids about playground safety.

Because we all know that kids may not be as good at these sorts of things — staying apart from each other, keeping their hands from their faces, washing their hands, and wearing their masks consistently over their mouths. And, cities may not be in a position to sanitize playground structures.

If we are going to take our children to the playground, we need to watch them like hawks. We’ll have to remind them to keep their masks on, follow them around with squirts of sanitizer, caution them to stand farther away from their friends. And to stop 'Touching Their Face'!

Here are other important reminders if you choose to head out to a playground:

▪ Do not enter the playground if you, or any member of your household are not feeling well, have Coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.
▪ Children with underlying health issues and those vulnerable should avoid using the play equipment or going to the playground.
▪ Use hand sanitizer before entering play areas and encourage everyone in your family to wash their hands regularly with hand sanitizer, especially before and after using any play equipment.
▪ Bring your own water bottles, wipes, masks, and sunscreen.
▪ Feed your kids a snack at home before going out to the park. This avoids eating at the playground when their hands may not be the cleanest.
▪ Encourage children to avoid touching their faces.
▪ Maintain social distancing from others. If distancing is not possible, kids who are able to should wear face masks.
▪ Remind your kids not to hug their friends.
▪ Some play equipment can only be used by one child at a time to allow for safe distancing. Ensure your family waits at a safe distance if the play equipment is in use or return later.
▪ Avoid busy times. If the playground is packed, leave and come back at another time, or find another park.
▪ Arrange visits to park playgrounds during non-peak times.
▪ Check with the park or recreation area in advance to prepare safely and to find out if washroom facilities are open and what services are available. It might not be a bad idea to have the kids use washrooms at home before heading out.
▪ If your family is wearing disposable PPE, take it home with you or where provided, dispose in garbage bins — do not leave any litter behind.
▪ Wash your hands again when you get home.

And while CDC has indicated that the chances of catching COVID-19 after touching a contaminated surface is relatively low, caution is still advised. The CDC website advises that "It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads."

Just take the necessary precautions — have fun at the playground and stay safe!

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