The NRPA Parks Snapshot provides the latest data on how park and recreation leaders from across the country are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you find this information helpful as you make decisions at your agency during this uncertain time, while continuing to follow the guidance provided by your local and state governments and health officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We will continue to provide weekly data from the NRPA Parks Snapshot survey, as state and local guidance and ordinances regarding COVID-19 are changing rapidly.
Among the key findings from the April 8-10 survey:
What’s Open/What’s Closed
Most park and recreation agencies continue to keep open all of their trails (90 percent), parks (local parks: 75 percent; regional parks: 67 percent) and community gardens (64 percent).
- For the first time since conducting this survey, less than half of park and recreation agencies (44 percent) continue to keep their dog parks open.
Most agencies have closed all of their:
- Playgrounds (95 percent)
- Permanent restrooms (77 percent)
- Beaches (75 percent)
- Skateparks (73 percent)
- Golf courses (63 percent)
- Temporary restrooms (57 percent)
- Outdoor sports fields and courts (54 percent)
- Dog parks (54 percent)
Four percent of agencies report their jurisdiction has closed streets to vehicle traffic to provide open space capacity to pedestrians and bikers.
Summer Programming and Staffing Plans
Three-quarters of agencies have put most/all of their summer programming plans on hold pending further guidance. The percentages of agencies that have already canceled specific types of summer offerings are:
- Sports leagues (14 percent)
- Outdoor pools and other water features (8 percent)
- Festivals/holiday celebrations (8 percent)
Two in five park and recreation agencies have delayed hiring summer seasonal staff because of uncertainty with summer offerings, while 2 percent have decided to not hire any staff this year due to the pandemic.
- In addition, 15 percent of agencies are unable to recruit summer seasonal staff due to an agency-wide hiring freeze, while 7 percent of agencies have halted seasonal worker hiring due to an inability to meet candidates in person, conduct reference checks or overcome other logistical challenges.
- On the flip side, a third of park and recreation agencies are currently recruiting summer seasonal staff, while 5 percent have completed their summer hiring.
Staff Health and Well-Being Opportunities
Among the health and well-being opportunities that park and recreation agencies are providing their staff are:
- Employment assistant programs (81 percent)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or masks for employees in the field (67 percent)
- Well-being calls (56 percent)
- Professional development (38 percent)
- Mindfulness training (24 percent)
- Resources to support basic needs (13 percent)
Park and Recreation Agency Pandemic Response Services
Currently, 38 percent of park and recreation agencies are offering one or more of the following COVID-19 pandemic response services in their community:
- Distributing meals to older adults (21 percent)
- Distributing/serving food to vulnerable families (17 percent)
- Distributing food to youth (12 percent)
- Opening agency facilities to serve as COVID-19 overflow testing and treatment sites (7 percent)
- Opening agency facilities to serve as emergency shelters (7 percent)
- Care for the children of other government, medical and public safety staff (2 percent)
The full results of the survey include verbatim comments shared by park and recreation leaders across the nation on their agencies’ experiences in confronting COVID-19. This is an uncertain time with many unanswered questions, and we encourage you to continue the conversation with your colleagues around how your agency is confronting COVID-19 on NRPA Connect.
For more information about NRPA’s response to COVID-19, as well as available resources for park and recreation professionals, please see our Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) webpage.
Kevin Roth is Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Technology at NRPA.