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Why Playgrounds In Illinois Are Not Reopening During ‘Phase Three’

The playground at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana has been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CHAMPAIGN – Park district walking paths and trails have remained open through Illinois’ stay-at-home order, and some have reopened pavilions for rentals and outdoor tennis courts since the state entered Phase Three of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.

But for the time being, playgrounds will remain closed.

Julie Pryde, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, says while it’s frustrating for many residents, playgrounds present too many risks.

“When you have any type of public playground like that, kids are going to gather and they’re not going to social distance, because kids don’t,” Pryde says. “That’s just too hard for kids to do unless they’re being watched every minute.”

Pryde says being able to identify people who’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 — then offer them testing and instruct them to isolate — is critical for limiting the spread. 

“If we end up with a positive case in an adult or child who was out there, we’re not going to be able to know who was on that playground equipment,” Pryde says. “I know that is frustrating for people.”

But she says it’s what must be done to keep new COVID-19 outbreaks to a minimum as the state slowly reopens.

Pryde made her comments at an online news briefing in response to questions from Illinois Newsroom and other media outlets. If you have a question you would like to ask local officials regarding COVID-19, submit it here.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

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Christine Herman

Christine Herman is a Ph.D. chemist turned audio journalist who covers health for the Illinois Newsroom. Her reporting for Illinois Public Media/WILL has received awards from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Public Media Journalists Association and has reached both regional and national audiences through WILL's health reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Christine started at WILL in 2015.

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