In world without COVID-19 (AKA last year), no one would ever think about cleaning a public playground. It’s the place for children to play and get dirty, right? However, parks were put off-limits in many areas during the recent outbreak. In others, playgrounds are still open, but they are breeding grounds for germs to pass from kid to kid and to their families. One man decided to take a stand and took upon the unusual and labor-intensive task of washing an entire playground.
Cleaning a Playground to Protect Children from the Pandemic
Mustaqim Kumar Abdullah Sooria got scrubbing at a local park at section U8, Bukit Jelutong, in order to protect the children who played there during the COVID-19 outbreak in February.
“I did it voluntarily with the intention of spreading awareness to the local residents of Bukit Jelutong that we shouldn’t underestimate the Coronavirus,” he said in a Facebook post.
“(I hope) this infectious disease will not spread to our children.” 
The post has garnered 17 thousand likes, 2.4 thousand shares, and 3.4 thousand comments from people praising him for his hard work. One person wrote that others should take Mustaqim’s example and clean the parks close to their home as well.  All it takes is a pail of water, sponges, cleaning detergent, a lot of grit and a lot of care for others.
Facebook user Joyce See Kai Xin wrote,” Those who laughed at you, you can ignore. Truly respect your selflessness and love. If every citizen can do their part like you, Malaysia will have less man-made disasters. Thank you so much!.”
Khalis Kamel said, “Good effort. Ignore those people. Allah will repay you for this good deed.”
Milk Yong wrote, “You’re a hero! Respect.” 
Here’s How to Keep Children Safe at the Playground
As playgrounds are becoming open, children are once again free to play on the slides, monkey bars, and swings, which includes touching many a hard surface that many others have touched. This makes many parents rather nervous about bringing their children to parks to play. Afterall, the virus is still spreading and the vaccine is expected to be ready next year—hopefully.
It’s impossible to know the hygiene and social distancing habits of the other people on the playground, so the risk of playing there can’t be entirely negated. However, it is safer to be outside than in a stale-aired, indoor location where respiratory droplets could linger like in a mall or a movie theater. Besides, the outdoors has the added benefits of fresh air, open space, and sunshine.
Social distancing rules should be maintained so if the park is crowded, it’s best to leave and find another place to play. Try going earlier in the day when the crowds are thin.
Colorado rules that no more than 25 people could be using the equipment at a time, and high-touch areas should be cleaned often. Other parks have put up warning signs that the playgrounds are not sterilized and “user discretion is advised.”
It’s unclear how long the virus can linger on plastic and metal (some studies suggest 72 hours). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that people could contract COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus and touching their own eyes, nose, or mouth, although this is not the typical way it spreads. 
Children able to wear masks in the playground as a small barrier from the respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, and breathing. However, if a child is continually touching their face or readjusting the mask, its function may become moot.
Here’s another tip: Bring hand sanitizer, especially if there is no bathroom available to wash their hands. Ensure the hand sanitizer is completely dry before a child eats a snack. Bring wet wipes as well in case the kid’s hands are covered in sand or dirt before applying the sanitizer. 
Speak to your child before going to the park and explain that they have to be cautious, stay distanced from other kids, and avoid touching their faces and taking off their masks. Many children will take the virus seriously if their parents do.
Keep in mind that adults are the primary spreaders of the coronavirus, not children. Be wary of social distancing from other adults while you supervise your kids on the playground. 
 Mustaqim Kumar Abdullah Sooria. Facebook. February 8, 2020
 “Selfless Selangor man cleans up local playground for well-being of children amidst coronavirus outbreak.” Arif Zikri. Yahoo News. February 10, 2020
 “Not all heroes wear capes: Man cleans Shah Alam playgrounds to protect kids from coronavirus.” Dawn Chan. New Straits Times. February 11, 2020
 “How It Spreads.” CDC. June 16, 2020
 ” Visiting Parks & Recreational Facilities.” CDC. July 30, 2020
 “As Playgrounds Start to Reopen, Here’s How to Keep Kids Safe.” Christina Caron. New York Times. June 22, 2020
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