Summer Isn't Canceled After All, But the Virus Has Changed Parks and Rec. Routines

"They can’t be stuck in the house, as far as I’m concerned. Kids need kids," one parent said

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Keeping the kids busy during the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for parents, but now many parks and recreation programs are back in full swing and their staffs are working to balance safety and fun.

The Parks and Recreation Department in Burlington, Massachusetts, offers several summer activities, including gymnastics, tennis and art. In order to comply with the state’s guidelines due to COVID-19, they had to make a number of changes to the programming. 

Masks are mandatory and group sizes are limited to promote social distancing. Equipment is sanitized frequently. Parents also have to fill out an online health screening before drop-off every morning. 

“We ask if they have a headache, a fever, if they’ve been exposed to anyone and if they’ve traveled,” Burlington’s Parks and Recreation Director Brendan Egan said.

Egan said families are following the guidelines and children are eager to participate. 

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“They’ve been pent up. They’ve been out of school. Giving them an opportunity to go out and socialize even though they are wearing masks is important” Egan said.  

Parks and recreation programming is also happening at Library Park in Woburn. From basketball to arts and crafts, the children are in small groups and required to wear masks. Even with all of the restrictions, parents said they were eager for their children to have an outlet. 

“I am absolutely thrilled. They can’t be stuck in the house, as far as I’m concerned. Kids need kids,” Nicole Lesslie said. “It was also extremely hard to find something to do with a lot of camps closed or not accepting applications.”

Capacity is limited and demand is high, but a number of cities and towns are also offering virtual programming during the pandemic. 

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