Hillsborough County is reopening all public playgrounds, splash pads, skate parks and outdoor fitness facilities on Monday.
This will be the first time since March these spaces have been open, after the county closed them following concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Even though public parks have gradually begun to reopen, the county kept these spaces closed.
The decision to reopen these spaces was made after consultation with health officials, emergency managers and Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation staff.
The reopening comes the same day brick-and-mortar schools are set to open following a rollercoaster of school reopening decisions in recent days.
There is worry among public officials about reopening.
School Board member Karen Perez brought up the numbers of positive cases within the county school system on Tuesday: between July 24 and Aug. 25, the system has seen 155 new cases, or about 39 cases per week. And that’s without students in classrooms.
Of the 182,322 students enrolled in the district, roughly 76,000 students are planning to go back to in-person classrooms. The actual number of students going back to traditional schooling could shift by Monday. The district has spent more than $5 million on PPE, including masks, gloves, signage, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to ensure a stockpile of materials for all schools, according to Hillsborough County Schools’ website.
Reopenings are based on data and input from public health experts.
The county encouraged those who use the newly opened spaces to practice social distancing and wear a face covering.
Hillsborough County currently has 36,623 positive COVID-19 cases, including 213 new cases from Friday. County Commissioners extended the state of local emergency in response to coronavirus on Thursday, which is extended each week. The two-week positivity rate is 7.27%, and COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county are trending downward.