It’s time to reopen the playgrounds
Access to public playgrounds and green spaces is well known to support childhood mental and physical well-being. In many urban centers, these may be the only spaces where physical activity is possible for more economically-marginalized communities. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, playgrounds in many parts of the country were closed in mid-March with the implementation of stay-at-home orders. Now in September, unlike many restaurants, bars, casinos, museums and indoor play spaces for children, outdoor playgrounds remain closed in many areas of the country (“In memory of Mount Airy mother killed in April, town moving forward with allinclusive playground plan,” July 30).
It is, however, now well known that COVID transmission is far more efficient indoors than it is outdoors. Moreover, surface transmission in outdoor settings has been rarely, if ever, documented. Finally, many European countries, which never closed playgrounds, have not established playgrounds as a significant source of transmission.
Families with small children across the United States are struggling without access to this valuable community resource. Families in more economically marginalized communities, in particular, are struggling because they are less likely to have access to either private backyards or membershipbased private green spaces. Thus, throughout the summer of 2020, families have been balancing the challenges of avoiding risky indoor spaces and not being allowed to take their children to public playgrounds.
Public health decision making is often based on the precautionary principle “it is better to be safe than sorry.” It was this decision-making process that led to the closure of playgrounds in March with vast amounts of yellow caution tape. However, public health officials need to balance the potential benefits of a decision with the harms. Here, we have a decision with unlikely benefits in disease prevention but with very real harm to communities.
With this in mind, we call for the immediate opening of playgrounds. It is September. The summer is behind us. In many parts of the country, it will soon be too cold for children to use these spaces. The importance of access to playgrounds cannot be overstated as a community resource for families, particularly those who are struggling under the weight of this pandemic. It’s time to speak up for the parents and the kids. It’s time to open the playgrounds.
Becca Krukowski, Memphis, Tennessee; and Dr. Stefan Baral, Baltimore
Little sympathy for top-paid university brass
The writers are, respectively, associate professors at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
The Sun reports that University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman is reducing his salary (“University System of Maryland chancellor takes pay cut, warns employees could ‘share in the pain’ of pandemic,” Sept. 9). Poor baby! This means the educator will take a 10% pay cut — down to a meager $864,000-a-year. I don’t know how he’ll be able to make ends meet on $73,000 a month.
The thing that riles me up the most is that Mr. Perman had to make it public, which got him front page ink. There are other fat cats in USM that I believe will also have to take similar cuts. University of Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon and the flagship school’s football coach Mike Locksley are earning in seven figures annually. Do you think Coach Turgeon can scrape by on $250,000 per month after a 10% cut? How about Coach Locksley?
People working in less illustrious positions in the system will truly struggle, living as many do paycheck to paycheck. How about them? Do you think their voices will merit front page articles? What happens to the people whose $40,000 becomes $36,000? They would need a part-time job to deal with the shortfall.
George Hammerbacher, Baltimore
Outrage over ‘Cuties’ film is half-baked
Just read Seth Remsnyder’s opinion piece on the “Cuties” documentary (“I canceled my Netflix subscription because of sexually exploitive ‘Cuties’ movie,” Sept. 16). Or, should I say, clips of it.
Short pile of commentary submissions these days? This belongs on a Facebook wall somewhere where people routinely bloviate with moral outrage about stuff they haven’t actually read or seen. I expect better from you, Baltimore Sun.
Karen Carothers, Halethorpe