The South East Cornerstone Public School Division has announced the closure of playground equipment at its school grounds.
Cornerstone and the Canadian Playground Safety Institute are not recommending the use of any playground equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, which includes equipment within our school playgrounds.
If a playground is teeming with children, it’s also teeming with germs, Cornerstone said in a media statement.
“COVID-19 is the most recent challenge in the transfer of germs and/or disease amongst children in a play environment. COVID-19 could now possibly be one of many germs that may be present on a common surface such as playground equipment.”
In most play spaces, the play equipment is cleaned infrequently, if at all. SECPSD says it relies on Mother Nature to do the cleaning. However, there are still plenty of germs at an outdoor playground.
Germs can spread across the playground, as small hands grasp the swing chain, use the hand-grips at the monkey bars, and push off from the slide. Playgrounds may be many times more germ-infested than virtually any surface in private homes.
“In addition to the germs already at the playground, already sick children also in attendance at the local park can present even more of a health threat to a child.”
A challenge in today’s COVID-19 world is that play spaces have historically represented social gathering places. Cornerstone says the biggest risk is seemingly not the equipment, but rather the biggest risk is other users or other people spreading COVID-19 while at a public venue such as the school play equipment.
The science of COVID-19 is still quite preliminary, and experts do not actually know how readily contaminated surfaces cause infection.
“What experts do know is most cases of COVID-19 come from direct person-to-person contact. Experts acknowledge that coming into contact with contaminated surfaces most likely contributes to the outbreak, but this type of common surface spreading has not yet been documented.”
Medical professionals are focusing on a 1.8-metre (six-foot) distance or separation. School grounds, apart from the equipment, offer space to spread out and get some fresh air. Please feel welcome to access the grounds but be reminded that social distance of a minimum of 1.8 metres is recommended even if you are outside.
Classes for the school division, and other schools in the province, were suspended indefinitely on March 20.