By Alyssa Schnugg
When the Oxford Board of Aldermen reopened city playgrounds in August, they did not reopen the playground at Avent Park. However, there was nothing put in place to bar children from jumping on the equipment.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said Tuesday during the regular Board of Aldermen meeting that children have still been playing on the equipment and recommended to the Board of Aldermen to reopen the playground.
“I think it’s time to reopen it and put up signs saying that the equipment is not cleaned regularly,” she said. “Actually, we don’t clean it at all; the rain cleans it.”
The Board voted to reopen the playground with Alderman Janice Antonow being the dissenting vote. The bathrooms at Avent Park, and all city parks, still remain closed.
Tannehill said parents will now decide whether they wish their children to play on the playground at the park.
The Avent Park playground is different than most city parks as much of the structures are made of wood and cannot be simply wiped down and sanitized.
“I wouldn’t take my children there,” Antonow said. “It’s almost like being indoors with little rooms and castles and kids on top of each other. But if parents choose to bring their children, I hope they at least make them wear masks.”
Tannehill said the city doesn’t have the ability to have someone at the park every day, all day to enforce the playground being closed.
“I believe it’s more responsible for us to put up the signage that makes people aware that it is not cleaned, and that there are lots of little crevices and holes to crawl into that are dangerous,” Tannehill said. “But that will be a parent’s decision for their child now.”
Also on Tuesday, Tannehill said she had spoken to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs earlier in the day about COVID-19 and the situation locally.
“He said our numbers for the state are going to be way up tomorrow, over 1,000, which is partly due to some of the larger labs that have been backed up, and some of these are tests over a period of time,” she said. “They are catching up, but he said to see an increase over the next couple of days.”
The number of new cases in Oxford has been lower in the last week as well, but Tannehill said those are expected to increase as the backed-up lab reports start coming out.
“It’s going to be deceptively high because they’re all coming in at the same time,” she said.
Tannehill said Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi reported a slight increase in the number of patients with COVID-19.
“We’ll see what the next week brings with the statewide mask mandate being removed and several communities following that order and not putting that back in place,” she said during the meeting.