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Social-distancing guidelines are in place at playgrounds throughout the area

After wading through unclear guidelines from the state on whether playgrounds could reopen, the Chehalem Park & Recreation District announced on June 12 that playgrounds in Newberg and Dundee will welcome visitors that adhere to a handful of new guidelines.COURTESY PHOTO: CPRD - Signs have been posted throughout parks in Newberg and Dundee to remind patrons of the rules.

"With Phase 2 came guidance from Oregon Health Authority addressing opening playgrounds," said CPRD Public Information Director Kat Ricker. "However, the order from the governor states that playgrounds are to remain closed. This discrepancy caused much commotion for park and recreation agencies throughout the state."

Park officials around the state came together and wrote a letter to the governor seeking clarification on the issue. As of CPRD's reopening of its playgrounds, no changes have come to the governor's statewide order, but they and other park and rec districts are opening playgrounds based on the Oregon Health Authority's guidance.

Patrons at local playgrounds assume all risk for contracting COVID-19 and CPRD emphasized that it is not liable. Rules are in place to prevent spread of the virus, including an encouragement to wash hands before and after using playground equipment, keep a safe social distance of six feet or more from people outside your family, and wear a face covering if you're above the age of 2 or don't have a health condition preventing you from doing so.

The decision to open playgrounds wasn't easy, Ricker said, but CPRD thought it was important to provide clear guidance to its patrons as it enters Phase 2 of reopening its facilities.

"Some agencies chose to open their playgrounds sooner on the strength of (the OHA recommendation)," Ricker said. "Some, including us, held back a bit as we sought clarification from the governor's office. We also consulted with our county health authority. Ultimately, we made a decision based on the information that we were able to gather and prepared our outreach to our patrons.

"We developed messaging for our patrons based on CDC guidelines aimed at helping people protect themselves from coronavirus should they choose to use the playgrounds. CPRD does not sanitize playground equipment. People use them at their own risk. The playground equipment is only as clean as the last person who touched it."

Signs are posted throughout parks to remind patrons of the rules, and those with further questions are encouraged to visit the CPRD website at CPRDNewberg.org for more updates and information.

Ricker said it is an exciting time for the district to begin a steady reopening of its facilities and it welcomes people back so long as they are courteous of their neighbors and recognize the dangers COVID-19 still presents.

"We are glad to be able to offer families the option to return to our playgrounds," Ricker said. "We have heard loud and clear that playgrounds are important to our community. We appreciate the many parents who waited so patiently. We hope that people will use caution and follow the safety and hygiene tips to protect their children and themselves. We are still living in a pandemic, and our choices have real and lasting effects throughout our community and greater population."


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