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Board of Aldermen open up most Oxford playgrounds

After being closed since March, Oxford playgrounds were allowed to open back up this week.

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen voted to reopen most playgrounds around the city. The playgrounds at Avent Park were the only ones the Board did not vote to reopen.

Playgrounds at Bailey Branch, Rivers Hill, Price Hill, Stone Center Garden Terrace and the Skate Park reopened on Wednesday. The exercise equipment on the walking trail next to the John Leslie Tennis Complex were also allowed to be used starting Wednesday.

The decision was part of an amended 10th emergency resolution the Board approved to fall in line with the extension of Governor Tate Reeves’ latest executive order issued last Saturday. The statewide mask mandate is still in effect through Aug. 31.

The playgrounds were closed in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Board voted to reopen the playgrounds that they deemed were manageable for parents in keeping their kids safe. The playgrounds at Avent Park were not allowed to reopen due to all of the equipment that contains confined spaces such as tunnels and some castle structures.

“They can be open but social distancing and disinfecting have to be maintained,” said Oxford emergency management director Jimmy Allgood during the meeting. “The CDC is saying kids on the playgrounds ages 2 and above need to wear a mask because of interactions between kids, and to limit the number of kids on a playground.”

Parents will be responsible for bringing their own hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes to clean any equipment before their child uses it or after.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said several times during the discussion that the City does have enough staff to clean the playgrounds regularly.

“The rain does (clean) occasionally and the sun hopefully kills somethings but we don’t have the staff to clean them,” Tannehill said. “We powerwash them occasionally, but I don’t want the public to have the false perception we are out here sanitizing the playgrounds.”

The Board also decided to keep bathrooms closed at the playgrounds to help with shorter visits and encourage social distancing and smaller groups at the playgrounds.