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 May 18-21 survey are:
What’s Open/What’s Closed
The vast majority of park and recreation amenities are now available to the public (e.g., parks, trails, basketball courts, playgrounds). This includes infrastructure and amenities that, until recently, many agencies had been slow to report. Now open (all or some) at agencies are:
- Temporary restroom facilities (e.g., porta-johns) (99 percent of agencies)
- Permanent restrooms at outdoor amenities (e.g., parks, trails) (98 percent)
- Indoor aquatic centers (96 percent)
- Recreation centers (92 percent)
- Indoor gyms (90 percent)
- Drinking fountains (75 percent)
- Senior centers (73 percent)
Many more summer offerings and events will be available to communities across the country in 2021, with most agencies delivering a robust set of summer events and amenities. In addition, agencies are less likely than in previous Parks Snapshot surveys to indicate plans to deliver truncated offerings. The following events, amenities and programs are being offered in full or in part this summer:
- Farmers markets (98 percent of agencies)
- Outdoor sports leagues (97 percent)
- Beaches (96 percent)
- Summer camp/Childcare (95 percent)
- Outdoor pools (93 percent)
- Programming targeted to older adults (92 percent)
- Sports tournaments (88 percent)
- 5K races and other running/walking events (87 percent)
- Summer festivals and events (84 percent)
- Indoor sports leagues (81 percent)
- Fourth of July fireworks (73 percent)
Summer camps and summer childcare programs provide a vital service to parents and children alike. Nearly all park and recreation agencies will offer summer camps/childcare programs in person this year.
Agencies offering in-person summer camps/summer childcare programs this summer are promoting the health and safety of participants and staff through:
- Enhanced cleaning and hygiene schedules (e.g., repeated hand washing, cleaning of restrooms, countertops and door handles) (81 percent)
- Increased outdoor activities to promote greater physical distancing (75 percent)
- Reducing the capacity of camps (65 percent)
- Using pods/cohorts so camp staff and children remain in the same classroom/area throughout the duration of the camp (54 percent)
- Ensuring that drop-off and pick-up occurs outside the facility (53 percent)
- Conducting health screenings of summer camp/childcare staff every day (48 percent)
- Conducting health screenings of children every day (46 percent)
- Mandating the use of masks (44 percent)
- Encouraging vaccination among summer camp/childcare staff (43 percent)
- Restricting sharing of equipment (e.g., toys, baseball gloves, art supplies, food) (42 percent)
- Staggering arrival and departure times of children (16 percent)
- Upgrading ventilation systems at facilities hosting summer camps/childcare (13 percent)
On May 13, the CDC updated its guidance on mask-wearing. Agencies have differing masking rules for places and activities. Those mandating masks for staff and visitors include:
- Administrative offices (56 percent of agencies mandate masks for staff and 46 percent mandate masks for visitors)
- Recreation/Community centers (56 percent, 45 percent)
- Gyms and indoor aquatic centers (53 percent, 41 percent)
- Indoor sporting events (52 percent, 41 percent)
- Outdoor sporting events (29 percent, 16 percent)
- Outdoor special events (22 percent, 10 percent)
- Parks and trails (17 percent, 4 percent)
Those recommending masks for staff and visitors include:
- Administrative offices (27 percent of agencies recommend masks for staff and 37 percent recommend masks for visitors)
- Recreation/Community centers (28 percent, 39 percent)
- Gyms and indoor aquatic centers (27 percent, 39 percent)
- Indoor sporting events (27 percent, 38 percent)
- Outdoor sporting events (35 percent, 48 percent)
- Outdoor special events (40 percent, 52 percent)
- Parks and trails (32 percent, 45 percent)
Remote Work Policy
Many administrative professionals transitioned to remote work during the pandemic. As offices and facilities open, these professionals will be transitioning back into their previous routines.
Currently, 56 percent of agencies have a policy that administrative staff must work at an agency facility. Nearly 30 percent of agencies have a policy that makes administrative staff eligible to work from home one or several days a week. Ten percent allow administrative staff to choose to work either at an agency facility or at home, while 6 percent allow most/all administrative staff to work remotely.
The anticipated post-pandemic policy for remote work would see 68 percent of administrative staff required to work at an agency facility. While slightly more than a quarter of administrative staff would be eligible to work from home one day to several days a week. Only 6 percent will allow administrative staff to choose to work either at an agency facility or at home.
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 about 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.