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Friday, July 1, 2022

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KVPD negligence, courts shut down following delayed COVID-19 response

Park Districts encourage individual, not group activities in parks across Illinois

Sports currently elude us all.

But physical activity doesn’t have to.

If it wasn’t relevant a shutdown was needed with every respected sports league on Earth shutting down, or the United Center in Chicago being filled with pallets of food inside a skeleton of the Blackhawks hockey rink. The gravity of the situation is JUST NOW finally being felt by our Park Districts, including Kankakee Valley Park District.  

On Tuesday, KVPD announced the closure of their Basketball Courts and Tennis Courts. You’d think Illinois Executive Order 2020-10 would’ve flipped a switch on the seriousness of the situation among local officials to already make that happen.  

It did not.

In a statement put out online last night, KVPD officials said in a statement:

“Please be advised that people are not honoring, respecting nor following the social distancing rule therefore we are forced to close the Kankakee Valley Park District Basketball Courts and Tennis Courts. We have repeatedly requested and reminded our community of the importance of the governors shelter in place and social distancing. It is our sincere regret this has to happen as this is a last resort to assist our community in staying safe and healthy in addition to following the governor’s orders of shelter in place.” 

Why would KVDP choose to rely on the honor system for a mass population instead of following the procedure and recommendations issued nearly two weeks ago at the start of the Pandemic? This is beyond ‘a delayed response’ after the closure of State Parks along with other state-run facilities, including schools, to lock their facilities down? 

It’s sheer negligence.

That’s not to say other parks across Illinois haven’t taken steps to keep their communities safe. Manhattan Park District in Will County has had its parks, playgrounds, fields, and courts shut down since March 20th. At MPD, Park District staff has not only locked down facilities but continues to actively engage with the community through social media, encouraging online activities, primarily with children.

“We have continuously attempted to keep the community engaged by encouraging physical activity, both indoors and out. We have reminded the public that time outside should be limited and the social distancing guidelines should be followed at all times,” said Jay Kelly, Executive Director. “These seem to be going over well and the community remains to be strong and supportive of each other!”

Back in Kankakee County, Bourbonnais Township Park District is welcoming individuals onto local trails and into parks. Encouraging people to take advantage of walking, hiking, running and biking still allowed at all BTPD parks, so long as it complies with social distancing standards. 

“We encourage our residents to enjoy our trails,” said Hollice Clark, Executive Director. “The fresh air and being out in nature is grounding and can assist with mental health. But we have to require social distancing and will be monitoring our parks. 

We want to keep our community safe and healthy.”

All playgrounds, fields, and courts remain closed, along with public restrooms at the facilities.

With the Governor’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ order now extended through April 30th, it remains to be seen how well the public as a whole will continue to abide by social distancing in smaller communities. 

With warmer weather coming, this will continue to spark more and more of a challenge to maintain our distance. Despite what is being said by Government officials, there is no proof COVID-19 will slow down in warmer weather. Dr. Anthony Fauci told NPR earlier this week, “We’re hoping that’s the case. We hope we get a respite as we get into April, May, and June.”

Until then, we must climb the curve together, responsibly. 

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