READ­ERS RE­SPOND

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - OBITUARIES -

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

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