COVID-19 has impacted all areas of public sector operations, especially parks and recreation. Members and their communities have been impacted by the cancelation of special events, suspension of public gatherings, cancelation of recreation programs, and closure of playgrounds, community centers, libraries, and senior centers.
As members contemplate reopening playgrounds and resume recreation operations, it is important to understand relevant local and state orders in place for the health and safety of community members and staff. At publication time of this newsletter, the state is in early phases of Stage Two of the Resilience Roadmap. Gradually, more public spaces are being opened and school and childcare facilities will be resuming operations, with significant modifications. Some summer programs may be scheduled to start as guidance is issued. Despite the progress, playgrounds, community centers, libraries, pools, and picnic areas remain closed.
As the situation evolves and progress is made in resuming operations, members are tasked with following new guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now is the time to prepare for reopening by carefully reviewing parks and recreation specific guidance for implementation. The following are several resources to help members prepare to resume operations (Note: This list is not exhaustive, and guidance is evolving continuously)
American Camp Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Considerations for Youth and Summer Camps (updated May 19, 2020)
Other resources include the National Recreation and Park Association Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) web page, which includes guidance, infographics, and other resources for park and recreation professionals on slowing the spread of COVID-19. In addition, information is available on devising plans for reopening which focus on public health and safety. The California Park and Recreation Society also has COVID-19 tools available for its members.
In response to COVID-19 risks, the Authority revised its participant waiver template. The revision includes communicable diseases, illnesses, and viruses, and as understood and assumed risks. This language is broad and is meant to address concerns related to the current COVID-19 pandemic and any future communicable diseases, illnesses, and viruses. Members are encouraged to update their agency’s participant waivers prior to resuming parks and recreation operations.
Also available is a new participant waiver template for virtual classes that includes specific references to risks associated with participating in virtual classes and events. The virtual class template also includes communicable diseases, illnesses, and viruses, as understood and assumed risks. All templates are available in the resource library on the Authority’s website.
Consult with your agency’s legal counsel when revising your agency’s participant waivers. If you have any questions, contact your assigned Risk Manager.
The Authority extends its sincere gratitude and appreciation to all member agency staff for your work and contributions to the public sector, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.