Terry Park

Shawn Baker Jr. 5, rides his motorized motorcycle with his sister Lydia 8, on a scooter in Terry Park across the street from their home in The Gate neighborhood in May 2020. Both are students at Central Christian School. 

Good news for youngsters who’ve been wanting to play in the park all summer: As of Monday, September 21, St. Louis County  reopened  its playgrounds. They had been closed since early April.

The St. Louis County Parks Department developed procedures with approval from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health for cleaning and disinfecting park playground equipment.

The 55 playground sites of the County Parks system will be disinfected several times a week with CDC-approved cleaners. The frequency of cleaning may be increased or decreased in the future based on further guidance from county health department, the State of Missouri, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tilles Park Playground

Tilles Park Playground

Although the CDC recently updated its COVID-19 data to say airborne transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is possible (then backtracked and abruptly took it down on Sept. 21), Spring Schmidt, director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, told The American it does not change the County’s stance on youth outdoor activity.

“It’s not going to change our recommendations for playgrounds because it’s outdoors – there’s a good amount of ventilation,” Schmidt said. “We’ve been watching the science even before the CDC changed their recommendations.”

During contract tracing, Schmidt said they have been talking about the ventilation in the room, air flow; and thinking a little bit differently about what is happening outside, versus what is happening inside.

“And it was already why  we’ve been more cautious on some of our indoor activities – in bars or restaurants or fitness centers or schools even, where we knew there were going to be lots of people in closed quarters and it might be poor ventilation,” Schmidt said. “ So, we’ve actually been using those for a while because we’ve been  watching the studies. So, I’m glad the CDC updated. I wish they had done it sooner.”

Although the playgrounds have reopened, some COVID-19 precautions remain. Signage will be placed at each playground site to remind visitors to stay home if sick, maintain 6 feet of distance from others and to wash or sanitize hands regularly. Masks are required, except on children while they are playing. Visitors are also encouraged to limit usage in order to ensure social distancing.

To further help limit the risk of disease transmission, St. Louis County Parks will limit use of playground equipment to daylight hours only (8 a.m. to dusk, daily).

At the St. Louis County COVID-19 dashboard, stlcorona.com, coronavirus cases are lowest in the age 0 to 9 age bracket. As of September 18, the County reports 22,556 positive cases of COVID-19, with the highest numbers among young adults ages 20 to 29 and oldest adults ages 80 to 99.

For more information, visit stlcorona.com.

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