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Community Update on Park District Operations – May 22

Deerfield Park District COVID-19
Community Update on Park District Operations
May 22, 2020

It has now been over 2 months since the COVID-19 virus protocols required us to take many actions in helping to reduce its spread. On March 13, 2020, all park district facilities were closed and programs were canceled. As we moved through those 2 months, the park district had to make some difficult decisions including furloughing a number of its employees and deferring a significant number of capital projects and purchases. These actions were intended to better position the district in being able to absorb the significant financial impact that the COVID-19 virus created. The district has since been continually monitoring federal, state, county and local agencies as they develop guidelines and identify restrictions to help us determine when and how we can re-open facilities and offer programs.

On May 1, under state guidance, the Deerfield Golf Club was able to open under strict guidelines from the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity office. There were many restrictions within the guidance, but it was a start for us all to get back to where we all want to be.

On May 18, the village announced that racket sports could return with restrictions. The district and the Deerfield High School collaborated to offer multiple court availability with a newly designed reservation system. This was yet another positive move towards reopening facilities and being able to offer recreational opportunities. The program has already been well received by the community.

On May 20, the Governor announced that we will move into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois on May 29. This is great news as just the week before he had stated the state would not peak in COVID-19 cases until mid-June. This announcement set a lot of things in motion that district staff had been waiting and planning for.

As of May 22, we will be working with local and state officials in attempts to re-open facilities and amenities within parks. These opportunities, in accordance with Phase 3 and local restrictions, will limit the number of persons permitted and include possible time restrictions. In any case, it will be another step towards getting back to where we were.

Services at Deerfield Golf Club will expand on May 29 in accordance with more allowances permitted within the Phase 3 declaration. Our coordination with the village for operations and programs provided at the Patty Turner Center, the Sachs Recreation Center, the Jewett Park Community Center and park amenities has already begun. As with golf and tennis, there will more than likely be incremental openings and additions to services. Announcements will be forthcoming as we are able to get guidelines and permission from the necessary agencies.

In the meantime, we can provide updates on some other programs and services:

All Summer Sampler and Eat to the Beat concerts have been canceled through July. We hope to be able to reschedule a few of those events in August if we are able to move into Phase 4 of Restore Illinois which will permit gatherings of up to 50 people.

Shelter rental regulations will be reviewed to determine if we can re-open picnic shelter use. Keep in mind that shelter use will be limited to no more than 10 people.

Playgrounds, basketball courts, restrooms and other park amenities will re-open as soon as we are provided clearance by both county and local officials. Parks will continue to be open for walking, jogging and running as they have been.

The district has been deliberate in all of its decisions as not to cancel events or programs throughout the entire summer. We have been developing numerous scenarios within the phases of Restore Illinois as well as within initial guidelines from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health. These guidelines, once fully developed, will essentially determine how, when and if we open facilities and offer programs.

The district has pursued offering summer camp in an altered framework from what it typically offers. We are moving ahead with this model which includes smaller group sizes, more locations and extensive protocols for distancing, disinfecting and activities. Special thanks to the school districts for permitting us to use their facilities.

As far as Aquatics, the district is dependent on CDC and IDPH final guidelines in determining how and if we can open our pools this summer. Other determinants include staff training, facility readiness and patron safety. As of May 22, we have not received those guidelines. The district, in hopes of providing some sort of pool season, has decided to wait until June 3 to make a final determination on when and if we can open our pools. The operations will be significantly different than they have been as we expect limitations in attendance numbers, distancing requirements and restrictions on some of the amenities within the pools such as slides, splashpads and play features. Our target date to open pools, if we can, will be July 6.

As we look to move out of the Stay-at-Home order and progress to Phases 3 and 4, we will look to provide additional and alternative programs and services for this summer. We understand this ever-changing environment we are in has necessitated the need for many behavior modifications and service provision restrictions. Many of those behaviors will be with us for a while and will be required to continue in many aspects of our programs and services. We hope you are staying healthy and are looking forward to enjoying more recreational opportunities as we are.