Gov. Reynolds has just announced additional closures in a new proclamation on, Monday, April 6, including outdoor playgrounds, campgrounds, outdoor skate parks and more.
Prior to the proclamation, parks and recreational departments across the Dallas County area had already begun restructuring spring and summer programs in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, many towns had not only closed their outdoor playground equipment but also shelters and restrooms located at their local parks.
“The City of Waukee encourages its residents to get out and exercise in the community. It can be a great way to de-stress,” City of Waukee Marketing and Communications Director Summer Evans said. “Hang in there, practice social distancing and good hygiene, and we will get through this.”
One of the programs most affected by recent closures are the upcoming city-wide Easter Egg Hunts, many of which have already been canceled. Towns across the Dallas County area are, instead, looking to alternative ways to host these family fun events. The Waukee Parks and Recreation Department, for example, is hosting a virtual Easter Egg hunt, where participants can decorate their own eggs and hang them in their windows. Community members can then travel around town in search of the different eggs.
“We will be releasing new and exciting programs each week and announcing them on our Facebook page,” City of Waukee Recreation Supervisor Jacob Perkins said. “We are constantly working to find new ways to interact with the community and to keep them active doing something. I think the biggest challenge has been adjusting the types of programs we offer. Right now the weather is starting to get nice, so it has been tough to not be able to offer our typical outdoor and in-person programs.”
Other virtual programming throughout the area has included sidewalk chalk challenges, a trick shot challenge and writing thank you letters to essential staff.
Adel community members have also just recently completed an A-Z scavenger hunt on social media, where participants were asked to submit a picture of 26 different items representing each letter in the alphabet. Adel Parks and Recreation Director Nick Schenck said that the A-Z scavenger hunt was a way to get people active while remaining in their homes.
“There are no programs that are organized coming up, but we do encourage folks to use the trails in Adel,” Schenck said. “The challenges are just unknown with the programs, and not knowing what things will be like in 30 days.”
The staff at the City of Dallas Center said that one of their main challenges is being able to keep up with the constant changes while still ensuring the safety of the public and city employees. Although the town maintains a website, Facebook page, and email notifications, the Dallas Center staff still receives calls from residents unsure of what they can or should be doing throughout this time.
“We are here to support our residents and businesses during this time. Please reach out if you have questions or need assistance,” the City of Dallas Center staff said. “Please stay home and be safe, and if you have to be out, please, adhere to the social distancing guidelines.”
Van Meter City Administrator Kyle Michel also emphasized the importance of safety throughout this time. In fact, the City of Van Meter has not only closed offices and facilities to the public but has also suspended unnecessary travel for city employees outside of Van Meter.
The city has, instead, focused on ways to help local residents. Michel recalls an elderly resident who was using the internet at the Van Meter Library prior to COVID-19 in order to pursue her Masters. With the recent closure of the library, she was unable to participate in her online lectures. She, then, reached out to the city of Van Meter for assistance who was able to shift one of their wifi hotspots in order to allow her to connect and work from home.
“It was a small project, but we were glad to be able to come up with a solution for her during this time,” Michel said. “Please take COVID-19 seriously. With community spread being apparent in Dallas County and in Iowa, we must assume everyone we interact with has been exposed. If you are having trouble maintaining aspects of your day-to-day life, reach out to us. We won’t be able to help in every situation, but we can help connect you with necessary resources.”