Playgrounds, splash pads back in play at city parks

Playgrounds and splash pads reopened in Boston on Monday with safety guidelines and signage advising residents to stay six feet apart, wear face coverings, wash hands before and after visiting, and stay home if sick. 

Boston Parks & Recreation Commissioner Ryan Woods said staff were out over the weekend installing signage at the city’s parks.

“Playgrounds are a space where people can come together, even if it’s socially distanced,” said Woods. “Yesterday we officially opened 219 playgrounds and started opening splash pads— we have about 40 across the city. The playgrounds that I’ve seen have been pretty busy.”

Playground-type facilities were scheduled for revival in the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which began on May 26.  On June 16, the Department of Conservation and Recreation announced that the department “will be conducting periodic cleanings of spray decks, playgrounds and fitness areas and has posted signage providing visitors with guidance when using the facilities.”

Gov. Baker also outlined guidelines for reopening youth summer programming in early June. The Department of Early Education and Care released an updated minimum guidelines for safely reopening on June 12, easing some restrictions that were laid out on June 1. 

Temperature checks for staff and children before entering child care spaces are no longer required, but parents or guardians will still have to answer questions about their child’s health daily in screening for symptoms of coronavirus. The department has also removed the condition of a maximum group size for kids and adults. 

Lisette Le, executive director at Viet-AID in Fields Corner, said the organization is trying to assess how to develop a hybrid approach to reopening youth summer programming. 

“We typically run a summer program and we’re trying to figure out what a hybrid model is going to look like, some kind of combination of online tutoring and staggering the amounts of participants that come through the center,” said Le. “We’re trying to figure out what that schedule might look like, although our anticipation is that we won’t be able to have as many student participants.” 

Le noted that VietAID is still planning to hire young people for some summer job positions. “We have some positions through the city’s partnership with Success Link to hire teen staff,” she said.  “We’ve been very intentional about hiring people from Dorchester, hiring people who might have a CORI or any other limitation on their records before and during the pandemic.”