Worry Growing Over the Re-Opening of Municipal Services
Throughout the US, local communities provide municipal services, the government-funded programs such as public libraries and parks paid for with government revenue. However, during the last few months of COVID, these services have been limited or closed down entirely in many areas.
As the pandemic continues on, it is important that these municipalities re-open to provide crucial programs and services that offer residents with activities and opportunities that provide a break from the stress of the virus. Parks allow kids to get outside and have fun, while also providing jobs for people in the community. Libraries allow adults and children of all ages to have a safe place to read, study and reflect.
It is even more important that these services reopen safely with the proper protocols in place to keep municipal employees and community members feeling safe and at ease. Right now, there are concerns over the ability of these services to re-open properly.
In Chicago, Park District workers are facing this exact problem. One Columbus Park worker recently died after complications from the Coronavirus, and at least 40 Park District Workers have had to be quarantined. Jeffrey Howard, the VP of the union who represents those Park District Workers, put the dilemma like this: “We want to be servants of the community because we know the community needs our park... But at the same time, there are things the parks can do to make sure that their workers are safe.”
What can be done?
So what exactly can local communities do to make sure that their parks, libraries, and other municipal buildings and services reopen safely? The most important action is proper planning and communication between interested parties.
Appropriate safety measures should be put in place to help reduce the spread of the virus. The first step to this is to practice social distancing and the usage of face-masks. In addition, CDC guidelines should be followed to decrease the likelihood of spreading COVID. By creating checklists and checking and verifying that all safety procedures are being followed, municipal employees can help reduce the spread of the virus, and employees and residents can feel greater peace of mind.
In conjunction with this, clear communication should be used to provide swift action against any COVID-19 related concerns. In Chicago, Park District workers were only notified of park closures by word of mouth for weeks. This made it difficult for workers to be aware of potential coronavirus scares, and contributed to their increasing case counts.
Communities can take action now. With appropriate safety measures and clear communication with employees and the public, virus concerns can be reduced. Ultimately, doing so could help save the services that provide jobs to so many people and put a smile on so many community members' faces.