Play Together. Play Smart. Play S.A.F.E.™

Playgrounds around the United States and world have largely been closed during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic. The National Program for Playground Safety supports these recommendations and encourages early childhood programs, schools, and communities to be attentive in our collective efforts to slow the spread of the virus. NPPS understands the difficult decisions to identify best practices as our communities begin to lift restrictions to playgrounds and other recreational facilities. We have compiled information on this page, intended as a useful reminder, for our communities as they begin to lift restrictions for playgrounds and children’s play areas.

Follow State and Local Guidance as We Return to S.A.F.E.™ Play!


Playground & COVID-19

Visitor & User Guidance

1: Don’t Forget Social Distancing (6+ ft and Avoid Overcrowded Areas)

Just because the playground is open does not mean that social distancing is no longer in effect. Understand your local community’s regulations and guidelines for social distancing. Playgrounds are a natural place for children to interact and have social interaction; therefore, it is important to find balance in providing children opportunities to play, while maintaining social distancing from those whom they have not had recent contact.

2: Playground Sanitation

It is important to recognize that each playground environment will be different. Just as maintenance intervals vary between playgrounds in normal circumstances, the maintenance of playground equipment and play equipment in the aftermath of COVID-19 will vary.

Coronaviruses naturally die in hours to days depending on surface and other conditions, however, they have been shown to be killed more quickly in warmer temperatures and sunlight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance suggests that it is impractical and an inefficient use of resources to spray disinfectants on outdoor areas, and recommendations are simply to continue existing cleaning practices.

It is likely that some procedures, however, will call for increased frequency of maintenance and sanitation of equipment. NPPS encourages particular attention to be paid to high-touch surfaces, such as handrails with EPA approved disinfectants for COVID-19 and other pathogens.

3: Practice S.A.F.E.™ Play – and Pack Sanitizer & Sunscreen

While there are increased concerns over viral transmission, environmental health considerations have always been vital for our playgrounds. It is important to remember to emphasize Supervision, Appropriate Environments, Fall Surfacing, and Equipment Maintenance for S.A.F.E.™ play.

Always Supervise children at play and report maintenance concerns. Playgrounds are the leading location for recreationally induced injuries to children.

Sanitize hands before, during, and after play sessions. Understand that the equipment is only as clean as the previous users.

Use Sunscreen, particularly during peak sun exposure (10am – 4pm). Sun exposure as a child is linked to many adult skin cancers.

4. CDC Guidance

If you desire more supporting information, particularly regarding sanitation of playgrounds for COVID-19, the CDC has issued several documents which provide guidance for practices involving, in particular, sanitation of outdoor areas.


Playground & COVID-19

Facilities Management Guidance

1. Install and Maintain Signage: Post Playground Guidance for Visitors

There is potential for confusion among visitors about expectations for playground use, particularly as state, county, and municipal guidelines vary and potentially change from day to day. Post the expectations for use in a highly visible area(s). Clarification of these policies will decrease confusion about appropriate practices, particularly as the situation is dynamic and changing.

Please communicate with your community!

2. Clearly Identify Maintenance Procedures to Visitors

It is expected that there will be apprehension and varying expectations from visitors regarding the maintenance – and particularly the sanitation – as children and families begin to return to use playgrounds. While Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance suggests that it is impractical and an inefficient use of resources to spray disinfectants on outdoor areas, it is understandable that expectations for sanitation efforts on playgrounds may vary across communities and installations.

It is likely that some maintenance plans will call for increased frequency and spray downs of equipment. NPPS encourages particular attention to be paid to high-touch surfaces, such as handrails with EPA approved disinfectants for COVID-19 and other pathogens.

Recognizing that sanitation efforts allow only a temporary return to baseline sanitary conditions, NPPS believes it is critical to communicate with your visitors to inform them of the frequency and actions that are taken for playground maintenance. In this way, visitors may make informed decisions on their comfort with the children under their care to utilize the equipment. Do expect that some visitors may be attempting to sterilize areas of equipment on their own and we suggest to address this in your posted rules.

3. Sanitizer & Sunscreen Recommendations

While there are increased concerns over viral transmission in this current time, environmental health considerations are important for children’s play areas. NPPS has encouraged adults to pack both sanitizer and sunscreen for their visits. Where possible, NPPS suggests the installation of sanitizer and sunscreen stations. It is vitally important to provide sanitizer for use before, during, and after playground visits – since wash facilities are often in limited availability near playgrounds. Similarly, NPPS recommends providing sunscreen along side sanitizing stations as many adult skin cancers are linked to childhood sun exposure. Both stations provide an important opportunity to address the importance of public health at playground facilities.

4. CDC Guidance

If you desire more supporting information, particularly regarding sanitation of playgrounds for COVID-19, the CDC has issued several documents which provide guidance for practices involving, in particular, sanitation of outdoor areas.