Playgrounds are safe
I didn't realize this needed to be written
Before I start, let me apologize for my newsletter paralysis. My transition to being a writer and a speaker has been pretty abrupt, and I have major indecision when it comes to newsletters. I think I wrote 6 and didn’t send any! The only solution is probably to send out more of newsletters and think less about each one. I will work on it, but thank you for your patience.
I wrote a different newsletter yesterday, but then I posted on instagram today about why playgrounds are safe, and I got such a big response I wanted to talk about this here too.
Here is the pro-playground argument:
1️⃣ Ventilation - being outdoors in a well ventilated environment substantially reduces spread. Even unmasked in uncrowded outdoor environment spread is unlikely. I will put my favorite chart from the British medical journal here. What this emphasizes is that crowds and ventilation are very important for spread.
2️⃣ When we thought fomites were a big source of spread we were understandably nervous about touching things. But it turns out very few people have caught covid by touching germs. The most recent data from the CDC states that each contact with a contaminated surface (one with live virus) carries a risk of 1/10,000 of causing an infection. This means even if the other person using the equipment prior to your child had COVID-19 infection from touching the equipment is VERY unlikely. UV light / sunshine outdoors further degraded the viruses ability to stay infectious. We can further decrease the spread by touching germs by washing hands and avoiding eating while playing in public spaces.
3️⃣ Distancing and time - children playing move around a lot. Often they aren’t within 6 feet of each other for long. Fleeting interactions are low risk. The 6 foot for 15 minute proxy was to estimate the transfer of 1000 viral particles and when your interaction is shorter, it’s unlikely you get sick. Particularly if children are masked it’s unlikely that they will have sufficient viral dose even if there was an infected child. This is why I also feel I can run alone in the park without masking, if I pass someone slower we are in the same space for a few seconds and functionally not a risk to each other.
*️⃣ Safe is always a relative term. It is possible to catch COVID-19 at a playground. If your child can mask, even if they are high risk, I think playgrounds are still an option because outdoor transmission is rare. For children who are unable to mask considering the crowds and community rates is important. But playgrounds provide a huge benefit to children. Facilitating physical activity and connection with other people is important for stress management, mental health, sleep, and behavior. Now more than ever play will help children heal from what’s been a traumatic year. The power of play is so significant it even has its own AAP guideline.
🤗😍🥳 Playgrounds are also a lot of fun!
If you are nervous - mask, clean hands, avoid eating there, and go at off-peak times.
The response I got to this post really surprised me because I thought this was obvious particularly when most adults are able to be vaccinated. But now I see a lot of people were scared of the playground, so I think it’s important to reassure families.
Especially since children <12 are unlikely to be vaccinated before 2022, we have to think about maximizing their quality of life and allowing them to enjoy their childhood. I am particularly sensitive to this as a mother to young children and because I’m aware that young children aren’t able to advocate for themselves.
I am hearing for example that in Los Angeles high school children are permitted to play indoor sports, but younger children may not use playground equipment or use shared balls outdoors. These sort of policies have to be adjusted to match the science.
Playgrounds are fair game and hope this gives you peace of mind to enjoy them too.
Let me know what else is making you nervous these days by leaving a comment, and I’ll try to send newsletters more frequently.
To celebrate hitting 30,000 followers on instagram I am doing a giveaway!
If you’d like a copy of my book on amazon kindle, fill out this link.