By Alyssa Schnugg
Children will be able to play on most of Oxford’s playgrounds again starting Wednesday, except the ones inside Avent Park.
On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen voted to reopen playgrounds at all city parks other than the ones inside Avent Park, claiming the wood structures would be hard to sanitize and the small tunnels and play areas make it harder for children to social distance.
Playgrounds being opened include those at the Skate Park, Bailey Branch, Rivers Hill, Price Hill, Stone Center and Garden Terrace and also includes the outdoor exercise equipment near the walking trails off Price Street.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood told the mayor and Board of Aldermen that the CDC and American Pediatric Association recommend reopening playgrounds “slowly and cautiously.”
“They can be open but social distancing and disinfecting have to be maintained,” Allgood said. “The CDC is saying kids on the playgrounds ages 2 and above need to wear a mask because of interactions between kids, and to limit the number of kids on a playground.”
Allgood said parents who bring their children to the playground should have hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with them to clean the equipment before and after their child uses it and to clean their hands after they’re done playing.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said the city does not clean playground equipment regularly.
“The rain does occasionally and the sun hopefully kills somethings but we don’t have the staff to clean them,” she said. “We powerwash them occasionally, but I don’t want the public to have the false perception we are out here sanitizing the playgrounds.”
The bathrooms will remain closed at the playgrounds since the city cannot clean and sanitize them several times each day and to encourage short trips to the playgrounds.
The Board also approved a plan from the Oxford Park Commission to begin slowly opening the activity center to allow up to 10 people at a time on the indoor walking track and up to eight people for pickleball on the courts.