Riverbank residents, moms, dads, sons and daughters, had a little reason to rejoice over the weekend. The city has been able to reopen the playgrounds in its parks.
City of Riverbank’s Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick advised that last week the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released new guidance to allow the reopening of playgrounds.
She added that the guidance applies to playgrounds that are fully outdoors; operated by a city, state, county, or federal government; and designed primarily to serve nearby residents within half a mile.
Some of the guidelines that Fitzpatrick noted are that face masks must be worn over the mouth and nose by all children two years of age or older and all supervising caregivers. Eating and drinking in the playground area is not permitted, to ensure face masks are worn at all times. Children must maintain social distancing between other households when utilizing the playground equipment, and adult caregivers must maintain social distancing from non-household members.
Adult caregivers must actively supervise each child to ensure children two years of age and older keep their face covering over their nose and mouth and stay six feet away from adults and children outside their household.
The Parks and Recreation Department reported on social media near the end of last week that the public would be able to return to its playgrounds, but they emphasized that California Department of Public Health guidelines are to be followed. In the past, local social media has seen some complaints that the playgrounds remained unavailable.
Along with wearing masks, social distancing and not eating or drinking in the parks, officials advised those using the playgrounds to wash or sanitize hands both before and after a visit.
Families are advised to plan ahead, by visiting the park at different times or days to avoid crowds and waits.
And people are reminded that they should know when to stay home. They say the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions should avoid playgrounds when others are present.
To avoid crowding and allow everyone to use the playgrounds, families are asked to limit their visits to 30 minutes while others are waiting to use the facilities.
Although parks officials have eliminated the ‘caution’ tape marking off the playgrounds in Riverbank, they note that some still remains in place for some facilities in local parks.
An example is Jacob Myers Park. There, the large playground area has become available, but the large Rotary barbecue and picnic areas are still closed off, as is the large Burney Pavilion near the river. With Stanislaus County making the move to the Red Tier level this week, that could change but any additional use of parks and/or equipment within the parks likely wouldn’t occur for at least a couple of weeks.
For now, residents can enjoy the limited return to the outdoors, getting in some fun in the early fall sunshine.
News reporter Virginia Still contributed to this story.