Is it safe for my child to play on public playground equipment when no other kids are around?

Families/Kids Staying Safe

A: The concern is not so much the playground equipment, but the activities that happen around the playground that require consideration. When making choices about playground visits, the following topics are worth consideration.

Community Spread – The take-home message is that there are more counties in the country with rising cases of Covid-19 than the reverse. Higher community spread increases the chances adults and children will contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 illness, at a playground, or other public spaces.

Indoor versus Outdoor – Outdoor recreational spaces allow for better ventilation than indoor spaces. Space and airflow outside make it more difficult to come into contact with enough virus to get infected. When choosing recreational outings, outdoor spaces are still preferred.

Crowds – The primary mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 remains person-to-person through respiratory droplets that enter your eyes, mouth, and nose. The risk of infection comes more from the people at the playground than the actual playground equipment. Avoiding crowded locations, wearing masks, and maintaining social distance are key.

Kids will be kids – Young children, in particular, know no bounds when it comes to maintaining their distance, containing their own boogers, and keeping their hands out of their mouth, eyes, nose, or the faces and hands of the caregivers and peers around them. Masks help keep the germs in and should be worn by all children (and adults) over the age of 2. BUT, touching the mask or momentarily throwing it off the swing is very likely. The trouble at the playground is not so much keeping the play equipment clean, it’s keeping the kids spread out, their germs contained, and their hands out of their faces.

While questions remain about the capacity of children to transmit SARS-CoV-2, the risk is not zero. Kids do transmit Covid-19 to other adults and kids.

If visiting a public playground, we encourage the following

  • Wear a mask
  • Visit playgrounds outside of peak hours to avoid crowds
  • Sanitize hands often during the park visit
  • Leave the snacks at home for after hands get washed
  • Join in on the play to help maximize masks, social distance, and fun.

Looking for alternatives to public playgrounds? Consider one of this options.

  • Field day races spread out
  • Kickball or soccer as an alternative to catch and other shared high touch toys
  • Nature walks
  • Explore somewhere local but new to you and play “eye spy”

Additional reading in this Good Housekeeping article.

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