Chicago elementary school trying to keep kids safe, in class with socially-distanced playground

St. Viator has not yet had any coronavirus-related issues

Thursday, October 22, 2020
A Chicago school is trying to keep its students in classes with a new socially-distanced playground.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One Chicago school is trying to get creative to keep kids playing and keep them in school -- with a socially-distanced playground.

The playground has a new look at St. Viator Elementary School on Chicago's Northwest Side, allowing students to play and keep their distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

St. Viator students, teachers and parents celebrated the grand opening of their updated play area Thursday. It's been months in the making.

"Over the summer, while we were planning for reopening, I wanted to make sure our students had a way to play outside during recess and gym," St. Viator Elementary School Principal Lisa Rieger said.

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The company Peaceful Playgrounds designed the "COVID-19 safe play area." It includes painted stations for four square and kickball that keep students 6 feet apart.

Dozens of parents volunteered to put it together. It's been in use for about a week.

"When the call went out to ask for helping hands, there certainly was no shortage of help," school parent Sara Yoest said.

Rieger said the new set-up offers many opportunities for students to play.

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"There's a lot of stations and games that kids can play. We also noticed that students are making up their own games and including all of their classmates, which is a really beautiful sight," she said.

The school has just under 300 students, and after nine weeks of in-person instruction there have not been any issues related to COVID-19.

"It takes a real community effort between our staff and teachers, our students and our parents that are all really 100% onboard and making sure we are following CDC (Centers for disease Control and Prevention) guidelines," Rieger said.