Why Playgrounds Need to Stay Open

California has reversed its decision to close playgrounds as part of the state's stay-at-home order after some legislators and parents complained and argued that children need outdoor play for their health and well-being.

2 minute read

December 15, 2020, 10:00 AM PST

By clementkhlau

Coronavirus Pandemic

Aliona Rondeau / Shutterstock

Should playgrounds be open during the pandemic? In this commentary, Jeffrey Klausner and Phil Ginsburg argue that California Governor Gavin Newson made the correct call to allow playgrounds to reopen.

Klausner is a professor of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA, while Ginsburg is the general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Together, they offer the following key points to show that the reopening of playground is the right thing to do based on science and equity:

  • Playgrounds are essential for children because they boost mental and physical health, sharpen problem solving and coping skills, and ease the effects of trauma.
  • Reopening outdoor playgrounds correctly prioritizes the health and wellness of children.
  • Although there was concern early in the pandemic about playground surfaces spreading infection, the Center for Disease Control indicated in May that surfaces are not the main way the coronavirus spreads.
  • While data are limited, to date there have been no known outbreaks traced to outdoor playgrounds.
  • Children appear to be 50% less likely to contract the virus than adults with similar exposures.
  • Playgrounds are vital urban infrastructure, particularly for those who live without equitable access to outdoor space.
  • Not only do swings and slides in playgrounds allow kids to get the exercise they need for healthy sleep patterns, but outside play is also critical in helping them settle down for online learning.
  • While wealthy families may have a variety of recreation options, poorer families and those in dense neighborhoods rely on public playgrounds for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
  • Playgrounds are the most equitable, accessible, and democratic recreational amenity that a community can offer young children and their families.

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