The NRPA Parks Snapshot provides the latest data on how park and recreation leaders from across the country are confronting the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (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 May 13-15 survey:
What's Open/What's Closed
A large majority of park and recreation agencies continue to keep open or have opened all their trails (92 percent), parks (local parks: 79 percent; regional parks: 73 percent) and community gardens (75 percent).
Several amenities that had recently been closed at a majority of agencies are beginning to fully open across the nation, including:
- Golf courses (88 percent)
- Dog parks (55 percent)
- Tennis courts (46 percent)
Most agencies are keeping closed all of their:
- Playgrounds (92 percent)
- Drinking fountains (74 percent)
- Basketball courts (71 percent)
- Permanent restrooms (68 percent)
- Campgrounds (68 percent)
- Outdoor sports fields (59 percent)
- Beaches (53 percent)
- Temporary restrooms (52 percent)
This week we saw a large increase in the number of agencies that have made decisions regarding their swimming pools. Currently, 23 percent of agencies with swimming pools have decided to not open their pools this summer (up from 6 percent saying the same just three weeks ago). Fifty-seven percent of park and recreation agency leaders are awaiting additional guidance from local and state government and public health officials before making an official call to open or close their pools.
The 20 percent of agencies that are currently planning to open some or all of their pools this summer will be promoting public health through:
- Signage promoting physical distancing and personal hygiene
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of restrooms, pool furniture, railings, equipment and other public areas (e.g., several times a day and after each use)
- Limiting the number of people within the pool area at any one time
- Limiting the number of people who may swim/wade in the pool at any one time
- Closing/removing certain equipment or infrastructure to reduce the risk of transmission (slides, kickboards, noodles, diving boards)
Half of all park and recreation agencies that typically offer summer camps/childcare report their plans continue to be up in the air, pending guidance from local, state and federal health officials. Nearly 30 percent currently plan to begin offering their summer camps/childcare on time or later this summer to children of all residents (up from just 10 percent saying the same three weeks ago). Currently, 13 percent of park and recreation agencies indicate they will not be offering summer camps/childcare this summer.
Agencies that are planning to host summer camps/childcare this summer will promote public health at these events through:
- Enhanced cleaning and hygiene schedules (e.g., repeated handwashing, cleaning restrooms, cleaning countertops and door handles)
- Restricting sharing of equipment (e.g., toys, baseball gloves, art supplies, food)
- Increased outdoor activities that promote greater physical distancing
- Reducing the capacity of camps
- Ensuring drop-off and pick-up occurs outside the facility
- Conducting health screenings of summer camp/childcare staff every day
- Ensuring the same camp staff and children remain in the same classroom/area throughout the duration of the camp
- Conducting health screenings of children every day
Ensuring safety and accessibility to services for the most vulnerable in our communities has always been a top priority for park and recreation leaders, but this global pandemic has made this need even greater. The top measures to ensure equity is considered during the development and implementation of park and recreation reopening plans include:
- Ensuring access to recreational activities and park infrastructure is reopened in an equitable manner
- Ensuring policies for monitoring physical distancing and public health measures are equitable
- Ensuring communications about COVID-19 are inclusive and reach underinvested communities
In addition, here are highlights of the survey results from specific segments:
- Large metropolitan areas
- Urban agencies
- Small metropolitan areas and rural locales
- Agencies located in areas under stay-at-home orders
- Agencies located in areas partially open
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.