NRPA Parks Snapshot: February 2-5 Survey Results

By Kevin Roth | Posted on February 5, 2021

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The NRPA Parks Snapshot provides the latest data on how park and recreation leaders from across the country are confronting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I hope you find this information helpful as you make decisions at your agency during this uncertain time and as you continue following the guidance provided by your local and state governments and health officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Among the key findings from the February 2-5 survey are:

What's Open/What's Closed

This winter, park and recreation professionals and their agencies continue to make the vast majority of their amenities available to the public. This includes nearly all agencies reporting that all their trails (99 percent of agencies) and parks (local parks: 97 percent; regional parks: 97 percent) are open.

Other amenities reported fully open at agencies include:

  • Dog parks (98 percent)
  • Tennis courts (and other racket sports) (95 percent)
  • Golf courses (94 percent)
  • Playgrounds (94 percent)
  • Indoor ice rinks (86 percent)
  • Outdoor ice rinks (85 percent)
  • Outdoor sports fields (81 percent)
  • Basketball courts (76 percent)
  • Campgrounds (75 percent)
  • Temporary restroom facilities (e.g., porta-johns) (71 percent)
  • Indoor aquatic centers (70 percent)
  • Permanent restrooms at outdoor amenities (e.g., parks, trails) (63 percent)
  • Recreation centers (63 percent)
  • Indoor gyms (60 percent)

While most amenities and facilities have fully reopened, the following have remained closed at many agencies:

  • Senior centers (67 percent)
  • Drinking fountains (55 percent)
  • Indoor gyms (26 percent)
  • Permanent restrooms at outdoor amenities (e.g., parks, trails) (21 percent)
  • Indoor aquatic centers (21 percent)

Spring Programming

Many spring offerings are on hold pending additional guidance, with a few having been canceled. However, many more agencies are offering full or truncated spring programs, including:

  • Childcare for children of healthcare providers/first responders/essential staff (83 percent)
  • Childcare for children of the general public (83 percent)
  • Farmers markets (79 percent)
  • Preschool offerings (76 percent)
  • Outdoor sports leagues (74 percent)
  • 5K races and other running/walking events (55 percent)
  • Sports tournaments at your agency’s facilities (54 percent)
  • Indoor sports leagues (53 percent)
  • Spring festivals and events (34 percent)

Staff Well-Being

Park and recreation leaders have implemented a number of measures to ensure a high degree of health and well-being among staff, including:

  • Requiring face coverings in the workplace (91 percent)
  • Providing PPE and masks for employees in the field (89 percent)
  • Altering workspaces to maintain physical distance (e.g., configuring partitions, rearranging furniture, installing signage, marking floors, installing directional markers, etc.) (86 percent)
  • Offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) (82 percent)
  • Training employees on personal protective measures (e.g., hygiene, cleaning, cloth face coverings, use of PPE, stress management) (68 percent)
  • Restructuring staff meetings to allow for more sharing (54 percent)
  • Offering access to COVID-19 tests (43 percent)
  • Conducting well-being calls (e.g., check-in conversations from supervisor/management to discuss concerns, share ideas) (35 percent)
  • Encouraging professionals to focus on what they love about their jobs (29 percent)
  • Offering mindfulness training (23 percent)
  • Providing resources to support basic needs (e.g., food, medical supplies, shopping) (11 percent)
  • Offering childcare for employees in the field (10 percent)
  • Maintaining on-staff doctors, nurses and/or physician assistants to answer COVID-19 related questions and concerns (9 percent)


As vaccinating efforts ramp up around the country, frontline workers vie for their place in the queue. Park and recreation staff at 56 percent of park and recreation agencies are currently not eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations per prioritization policies in their locality. Currently, 1 in 10 park and recreation leaders indicate all agency staff is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, and 1 in 3 states that some agency staff is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations per prioritization policies in their locality. In the case of the latter, eligible staffers include those supporting childcare services, those working at senior centers, and rangers and other first responders.

Park and recreation professionals continue to play a vital role in the community when it comes to testing and vaccination distribution, with nearly 4 in 5 park and recreation agencies across the country supporting these efforts. Along with providing staff at many testing/vaccination sites, parks and recreation support includes:

  • Providing agency staff with information on the availability and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine (50 percent)
  • Advocating for staff eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations (e.g., for frontline staff) (48 percent)
  • Offering agency facilities to serve as COVID-19 vaccination clinics (39 percent)
  • Leveraging agency communication channels to educate the public on the availability and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine (35 percent)
  • Offering agency facilities to serve as COVID-19 testing sites (34 percent)
  • Addressing transportation challenges to/from vaccination clinics (6 percent)
  • Providing childcare services for essential personnel and the general public while receiving the vaccine (2 percent)

View the Full Results


In addition, here are highlights of the survey results from specific segments:

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 and to see results from additional surveys, visit NRPA's Parks Snapshot Surveys webpage.

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.