The One Thing You Shouldn't Let Your Kids Do in Public, the CDC Says
Why you should keep your children far away from this spot, even when lockdowns lift, according to the CDC.
If you're a parent or guardian, we don't have to tell you that kids can melt down when they've been stuck in the house for too long. It's just one of the things that has made quarantine difficult for families. With many of the destinations for your usual outings still closed, parents are relying on spending time outdoors with their little ones—to give everyone a chance to experience a change of scenery and get a little exercise. Walks are safe, as are certain types of outdoor play, but if your child starts to make a run for that slide in the middle of the park, hold them back. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that playgrounds stay off limits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Among its guidelines about utilizing recreational facilities and parks at this time, the CDC says, "In many areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air and vitamin D, stay active, and safely connect with others." Getting outside and being active is good for your physical and mental well being, as long as social distancing can be observed and you continue to take other recommended precautions, such as frequently washing your hands (or using hand sanitizer), wearing a mask, and not touching your face.
However, the CDC also lists a few "don'ts" for park visits. Firstly—and this goes for almost everything that happens outside of your home—do not visit a park if you're sick. You should also steer clear of parks that are busy and crowded, as it will be impossible to maintain six feet of distance. Neither children nor adults should be playing team sports, as (again), they don't allow for social distance and usually involve many sets of hands touching the same ball. Finally, the CDC says not to use playground equipment of any kind.
The use of playgrounds can assist the spread of COVID-19 in a few ways, per the CDC. Right off the bat, unless your child is the only one using it, they can't maintain social distance. It's also unlikely that playground equipment is being sanitized frequently, particularly if it's meant to be closed to the public. That can lead to kids coming into contact with virus particles. "The virus can spread when young children touch contaminated equipment and then touch their hands to their eyes, nose, or mouth," says the CDC.
The coronavirus is spread through droplet transmission and can infect us through those areas of the body. So imagine that an infected child sneezed into their hand and then took hold of the chains on a swing. (Science has proven that the virus can live up to three days on certain metals, so that's a lot of potentially dangerous little fingers.) Then, your child uses the swing and rubs their eyes when you're not even looking. Infection can happen that quickly and easily.
So while spending time in your local parks is safe (and highly beneficial) in certain circumstances, the playground area is a potential hotbed of COVID-19. So keep your kids clear, and maybe even consider investing in that backyard swing set you've been eyeing. And for more tips about caring for children in the time of coronavirus, check out The CDC Says You Must Keep Hand Sanitizer Away From Kids Under This Age.