As park and recreation professionals work towards a path to recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it is essential to take a thoughtful and methodical approach to reinstating operations that protects public health and safety. This section of the Path to Recovery Framework includes guidance on forming a cross-sector team to lead the recovery process.
Park and recreation professionals should not create recovery plans in silos. Rather, they should work collaboratively with a variety of sectors, organizations, and leaders to inform recovery plans. These key stakeholders will help to bring strategic thinking, knowledge, resources, and diverse perspectives to the table, ensuring that recovery plans leverage resources and capacities, and are thoroughly vetted and in alignment with all public health guidance. Working collaboratively also provides an opportunity to ensure that like-minded organizations are adopting shared plans, guidance, and messaging.
Recovery team members may include representatives from the following sectors:
- Local public health officials
- Emergency response coordinators
- Law enforcement
- Healthcare practitioners
- Social workers
- Other municipal departments – housing authority, transportation, equity & inclusion, schools, etc.
- Like-minded community-based organizations (YMCA, BGCA, etc.)
- Vendors – supplies, food, etc.
- Local non-profits, faith-based community, or other key partners
- Community advocates
Agencies should also make certain that recovery teams engage a diverse group of park and recreation professionals across all departments of the organization. This helps make certain that all aspects of operations are considered for the variety of spaces, facilities and programs managed by park and recreation departments. A diverse group of staff will have insights on assessing staff capacity, technology needs, maintenance and cleaning concerns, and the ability to monitor and enforce physical distancing, etc.
Agencies should also work to make sure that community members are represented in the recovery planning process. Equitable and inclusive community engagement is central to the profession’s shared vision of access for all, and this vision holds true through the COVID-19 pandemic. Conducting community engagement helps to ensure that park and recreation spaces, facilities, and programs are meeting the needs of all people, prioritizing those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and working to ensure that all people have fair access to quality parks and recreational opportunities in each phase of recovery. Engaging community members will provide insights on the day-to-day concerns of individuals and families, as well as their support in reopening decisions.
*Consider hosting virtual community meetings, conducting key informant interviews with community members, or engaging the community through social media platforms.
Team Goals, Roles & Responsibilities
Upon forming a recovery team, a good first step is to establish goals for the team. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based (SMART). Teams should also outline roles and responsibilities for all team members, so all parties are clear on their specific assignments and actions needed. Using an action planning tool that outlines the specific task, timeline of deliverables, key team members, and any target metrics may be helpful in this process.
Recognize that these goals and responsibilities may evolve over time, as COVID-19 has been very fluid in nature and teams will need to respond to the situation at hand.
Sample SMART goals for recovery teams:
- By May 31st, 2020, our recovery team will draft a phased reopening plan in accordance with public health guidance, and considering staff capacity, secured supplies, and budget. Reopening plan will outline:
- What indicators must be met to move from phase to phase
- Types of activities allowed in each phase (single use vs. group activities)
- Public health measures that will be present in each phase (e.g. face coverings, physical distancing, gathering restrictions, etc.)
- Hours of operations in each phase
- Essential services that need to be prioritized in each phase
- Communication and community education strategy for each phase
- By May 15th, 2020, our recovery team will complete a risk assessment of all park and recreation facilities and programs. We will analyze the assessments, supported by qualitative data from recovery team members and subject matter experts, and identify which facilities pose the lowest risk of transmission by May 21st. We will group these facilities and programs into the appropriate phase for reopening based on risk and ability to implement mitigation strategies.
- By May 21st, 2020, our recovery team will establish a plan for sourcing critical supplies needed to maintain cleaning and disinfection measures in facilities. The plan will include both cleaning supplies as well as personal protective equipment that may be needed by staff.