HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Cities across the Rio Grande Valley closed public playgrounds not long after the onset of the pandemic to avoid facilitating the spread. Now with vaccines becoming more available, playgrounds are beginning to reopen.
The city of Harlingen is the latest to announce its playgrounds are reopening, citing high demand from parents.
Harlingen Assistant City Manager Carlos Sanchez said they were planning for this decision weeks before Gov. Abbott announced Texas’ complete reopening and received approval from Harlingen’s health director.
To maintain safety, children above two are being required to wear masks, the play stations will be sanitized twice a day, handwashing stations will be available and groups of more than ten, not from the same party, are discouraged.
“The goal of reopening the playground facilities is to give that option for parents to take their kids and allow them to enjoy the outdoors,” Sanchez said. “We feel playground equipment is one of those things kids look forward to.”
While the city will not have staff on-site to enforce these policies, they are hopeful people abide in the interest of avoiding another spike in cases; any violation of the guidelines can be reported to the health department.
One local father says his 7-year-old has been itching to get out of the house and enjoy sports and outdoor interaction with kids his own age.
He says they’ve been looking forward to the day playgrounds reopen and are satisfied with the city’s safety guidelines. However, he fears some may just ignore them.
“I think it’s something good, but I just feel 90% of people are going to abide by the rules, but there’s still going to be the 10% that are just going to feel like ‘I don’t need to wear a mask,’ and will do whatever they want,” Abel Castañeda said.
He says he’ll likely take his son to a park soon, but will turn around to leave if they observe crowds and find the situation to be unsafe.