CORONAVIRUS

Many Eastern Iowa playgrounds - but not all - will reopen Monday

Cedar Rapids schools will keep their playgrounds closed for now

Bryce Hargrow, 11, of Cedar Rapids, gets a push on a saucer swing from his twin brother, Braylon, as they play last June
Bryce Hargrow, 11, of Cedar Rapids, gets a push on a saucer swing from his twin brother, Braylon, as they play last June on the new playground equipment at Daniels Park in northeast Cedar Rapids. Most Corridor cities are reopening park playgrounds Monday, while encouraging social distancing and hand hygiene. The Iowa City school district playgrounds will open Monday, but school playgrounds in Cedar Rapids will remain closed. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Many outdoor playgrounds in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City will reopen Monday, in line with Gov. Kim Reynolds’s proclamation earlier this week.

But the Cedar Rapids school district will keep its playgrounds closed for now, with officials saying they will consider the governor’s decisions along with advice from state and county public health officials.

“The district is closely monitoring the governor’s proclamations and further guidance will be forthcoming by July 1, 2020, on any modifications to the facilities usage,” according to a message sent to families Friday.

Likewise, some families are not prepared to let their children swing, slide and climb on equipment touched by other children.

“I’m not quite at the point of being 100 percent comfortable, especially because there is evidence COVID-19 can live on surfaces,” said Clara Delrieu-Schulze, of Iowa City, about letting her daughter, Avyana Axton, 9, play on public playgrounds.

The mother and daughter enjoyed ice cream outside Dane’s Dairy in Iowa City on Friday, the last day of school for the Iowa City Community School District, after wiping down the table and used hand sanitizer.

Playgrounds were closed in March to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a virus primarily spread through close person-to-person contact.

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The cities of Cedar Rapids, Marion and Iowa City announced this week they will reopen outdoor playgrounds Monday, although restrooms at some sites will remain closed.

Iowa City plans to post signs warning playground users there will not be any increased cleaning of the equipment and they use the playground at their own risk.

Cedar Rapids also will have signs at 52 playground sites to reminding park users to practice social distancing, stay home if they are ill and to use hand sanitizer before, during and after use.

The Iowa City school district will open elementary school playgrounds to the public Monday, with spokeswoman Kristin Pedersen “encouraging everyone to continue to follow CDC and public health guidance regarding social distancing.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week 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, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

There is some evidence ultraviolet rays in sunlight may be able to deactivate viruses like COVID-19, National Public Radio reported.

Sam Jarvis, community health manager for the Johnson County Public Health Department, said families should be aware they are assuming additional risks if they go to a park or playground.

“The reality is, when there are people in an area, it’s very natural to want to socialize, especially children,” Jarvis said. “If one is able to keep their physical distance or be at the park on their own, there’s less risk.

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“If the park has many people, and it’s hard to keep your distance, there’s more risk. That might be a time to avoid the park and playground if there are too many people.”

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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