To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to follow CDC guidelines, Kansas City Parks and Recreation has closed all playgrounds and courts as of March 24, 2020. Trails and parks will remain open.
Parks Director Terry Rynard said the decision was made in collaboration with Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer, Mayor Quinton Lucas, and other metro-area parks directors.
“We understand the importance of people having some kind of way to get outside,” said Rynard. “But we want to make sure we set some parameters that people would follow to make sure we are following all the CDC guidelines.”
All of the 112 playgrounds are closed throughout the city, but Rynard said while it’s impossible to physically close them, there will be signage up by the end of the week, notifying people of the closure.
There are currently three park rangers that patrol the parks in Kansas City, and their duty is to remind people to not gather in groups of 10 or more, to follow social distancing requirements, and for the safety of everyone, to try and keep people off playground equipment.
Rynard said the Parks Department is getting a quote on what it would look like to sanitize all the playground equipment, but the sanitization will be held off for a while.
“Our concern about doing it now is that if we did it, as soon as someone got on it, it would still have the possibility of being contaminated,” she said. “Also, if people see us out there sanitizing them, they might make an assumption that it is ok to use them, so we are going to wait until we get further down the road to have them sanitized.”
As of right now, the timeline for the closure is in conjunction with the Mayor’s “Stay at Home” order which extends to Friday, April 24, 2020.
At that time, Rynard said they will assess the situation further to determine a time for opening.
Even though the playgrounds and courts are closed, Rynard suggested people visit a new trail for walking and biking.
“I’d suggest people go to a park that you necessarily haven’t been to before or a trail you haven’t been on before,” she said. “If everybody goes to Loose Park, that’ a lot of people. Go to our website and look at a park, particularly in the Northeast, Cliff Drive is great to walk. Notify someone if you are coming up behind them on a trail so they know to keep a safe distance. It’s an incredibly important time to get that nature fix.”
Rynard said neighbors and the community can help the Parks Department by spreading the word on the closures.
“There are Nextdoor apps and social media accounts that neighbors have, so just spread the word via social media,” she said. “We absolutely would not want anyone to do the enforcing other than sharing information via social media.”
Ultimately, Rynard said to go outside but stay safe.
“Follow the guidelines and get some fresh air when you can.”
For more information, visit www.kcparks.org or follow KCMO Parks on social media @KCMOParks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.