So, I’ve been asked about whether or not Riverdale will be re-opening our Community Room and Parks/Playgrounds on Friday. The short answer is “no” but there’s a more in-depth explanation I’d like to share with all of you (I posted this on the Riverdale Residents page just a few minutes ago) …
 
“I’ve asked a select group of citizens known as “The Playground Users’ Group” (all kids between 5th and 10th grade) to create a set of guidelines they can live by that will explain how they’ll socially distance, what kinds of games they’ll be playing and how they’ll educate and encourage other kids at the playground to play safe.
 
If they can come up with the guidelines, I’ll review them and we’ll figure out a plan to re-open the playgrounds and parks. Right now, though, I’m going to temporarily extend our shut downs to the end of the month and start working on guidelines for limited (and safe) use of the Community Room, Gazebo and Park Shelters while my 10-15 year-old colleagues work on the playground rules.”
 
I’m quite concerned that removing the restrictions on our public places will seemingly minimize the threat posed by COVID-19 that still exists today as much (or more) than it did a month or two ago when we enacted the restrictions in the first place. By the same token, I know that it will become increasingly difficult for people to stay sheltered in place for even more weeks – especially if there’s no end in sight.
 
I believe there’s a third option and that requires a combination of discipline and ingenuity.
 
What I’ve asked our “Playground Users’ Group” to do is give me guidelines they think they can live within. This is important – especially with kids – because while many kids may never contract COVID-19 this year, they can spread it from one kid to another (at the playground) and carry the virus back into the home where it could infect an at-risk adult or senior member of the family. By giving these youngsters an opportunity to become part of the “solution” to the problem, we not only give them the possibility of playing outside again (responsibly), but we teach them that they can work with local government to make things happen that are important to them.
 
Call it a 2-fer-1 education in social and biological sciences. A teachable moment. Or, for some parents, a chance to finally get the kids out from in front of the TV.
 
I’ll let you know how things go.