Outdoor Activities During Covid

Parent Q&A

Kids' swimming time this year? Mar 24, 2021 (5 responses below)
Swimming Pools in Covid Times? Dec 2, 2020 (13 responses below)
Recommendations for Covid-safe experiences for older babies Oct 21, 2020 (3 responses below)
Outdoor story time or toddler group activities? Oct 9, 2020 (3 responses below)
Yosemite during the pandemic Jun 27, 2020 (9 responses below)
Where to go for kids to ride a bike May 3, 2020 (31 responses below)
  • Kids' swimming time this year?

    (5 replies)

    Hello BPN, my 9 year old is desperate to swim, but all of the places we used to take him for lessons or open swim time are closed due to Covid.  Is there anywhere you can recommend for this spring or summer?  We'd be willing to drive anywhere in the greater Bay Area if we can make the timing work.

    RE: Kids' swimming time this year? ()

    Aquatech in Concord and Alameda are open for group lessons. We went there prior to pandemic and they are reasonable and clean.

    RE: Kids' swimming time this year? ()

    My kids love to swim, too! If you live in Berkeley or El Cerrito, you can sign up for family swim at the public pools. The shallow end is reserved for one family for 45 minutes. It's wonderful. But slots fill up within one minute of registration opening each week, so being a resident (and thus getting priority) is necessary. It's also necessary to be on your computer, signed into your account, and ready to click the ready the moment registration opens. I have a weekly alarm set on my phone.

    For swim lessons, Strawberry Canyon Pool just opened up registration for summer swim lessons, and Albany Pool is currently hiring swim instructors, so my guess is that they are planning for summer swim lessons as well.

    RE: Kids' swimming time this year? ()

    Hi! The El Cerrito Swim Center opens up a calendar to reservations at certain points in the month. Twice our family has gone for a 45-minute reservation and the pool is blocked off into zones so it felt very safe to me. 

  • Swimming Pools in Covid Times?

    (13 replies)

    Hi all - 

    Does anyone know of any swimming pools (ideally outdoors, heated) that are open this winter for lap swimming or children's swimming lessons, despite covid? I am pregnant and can't do any form of exercise really other than swimming. I would be willing to pay $ to join a private club or gym if that's the only way to get access to a pool, since I assume pools are making people comply with covid-safe protocols like reserving lap lanes in advance and having low capacity. I have heard that the Bay Club in Walnut Creek has pools and is open, but are there any other places out there that have swimming going on right now that anyone can suggest? 

    Indoor pools have been closed in most of the Bay Area since March, and I wouldn't anticipate them opening anytime soon the way COVID is going. Hotels/motels "may" be the only exception. If you talk to a gym and they tell you their pool is open, they are most likely in violation of the health order. Sorry - I miss swimming too!

    Sorry, reading more, I thought you were asking about indoor pools. Outdoor pools currently can open with reservations for lap swim and there are some doing it, such as Albany USD and City of El Cerrito. I suspect the future shelter in place orders will close all pools though. I don't believe children's lessons are taking place as there are bans on youth sports (maybe?? the rules are changing so quickly)

    Hi, the El Cerrito Swim Center's outdoor lap pool is open for adult lap swim. Reservations are required (all online) and there are a host of health and safety procedures and rules in place. I've been going for months and its been amazing to have it. The only reservation system is a bit tricky to master but once you get it, its not bad.   Lakeridge Athletic Club in El Sobrante also has an amazing outdoor pool that you can become a member of. 

  • Seeking suggestions for Covid-safe new experience for older, non-walking babies (I have 10 month twins).  We are very Covid risk-averse - both parents work from home, groceries delivered, no socializing with other people (even outside/social distanced), avoiding crowded places.  We've been doing pretty well in a routine that is focused around our home, our backyard, walks around the neighborhood, picnic blanket at the local park, and hikes.  But earlier this week, we had to go to the hospital for an x-ray for one of the girls, and I was struck by how intently she was taking in everything that was going on around us (the elevator, the people, the Xray machine) -- and it made me think that maybe they are missing out by not being in new/stimulating environments on occasion. But I'm a bit stuck in thinking of what those environments are right now that aren't a Covid risk -- again, we are VERY risk averse (so pumpkin patches or visitng Lake Merritt for example are outside our comfort zone). The are crawling and climbing, but not walking yet, and love to put anything and everything in their mouths.

    I would maybe look for an outdoor play group in a couple months. I agree it's time for you to start casually thinking about this, but i don't think 10 month olds are going to be harmed by hanging out at home with the fam.

    We are cautious about Covid but still allow family members to visit, our 3 year old is in preschool, and we take the kids (occasionally but rarely) to Target or other stores.  With that being said, we primarily have our 10 month old at home - not because of Covid - just because it's hard to get kids out of the house!   We aren't worried about it.  With our 3 year-old, she predominately became interested in other activities around 1.5 years or so.

    My son was about your babies' age when the pandemic started. He finally puts less things in his mouth now, but he still does, so I get that part. Since your babies aren't walking yet, I think you have an advantage here when going out. I would go to parks with big spaces to spread out on a blanket with your own toys (the Berkeley Marina, Memorial Park in Albany, Dover Park in Berkeley are good examples that have space). That way, they can see other kids from a distance and not be as isolated. It's awkward when another child comes up and wants your toys, but parents around here seem pretty respectful of boundaries right now. It's great that they have each other, but being exposed to children and adults other than what they are used to, even from a distance, is important for their development. It's a process we all have to figure out and get comfortable with. 

  • Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows of outdoor storytime or similar activities for toddlers in the east bay? My daughter is 14 months old and doesn’t get a chance to be around kids much. I’d love to have her do an outdoor activity that is socially distanced and safe during Covid but will still let her see / be around other kids. Any tips / ideas would be appreciated! 

    Following! I'm also looking for something like this.

    Speaking as a volunteer storytime reader: me and some of my colleagues have discussed this a lot over the past several months, and nobody I know of has found a way to do it safely. When family groups all have to sit six feet away from each other, you quickly reach a point in terms of crowd layout where the storytime reader simply can't be loud enough to reach the back row, or the book isn't visible. That, and the epidemiological x-factor of a bunch of wiggly kids in one place, masks halfway on, all being encouraged to yell and wave their bodies around (plus the bigger problem at every storytime, misbehaving parents).

    Doesn't mean nobody's doing it! But I haven't heard of anyone doing it and I'd personally hesitate to bring my own kid to one, as much as I love storytime. That said, Alameda County just loosened their restrictions on playgrounds, so that may be a better option for now.

    I suggest you form a pod with one or two other families with similarly aged kids, and do regular storytimes with them in someone's backyard or at a park. 

  • Yosemite during the pandemic

    (9 replies)

    Has anyone been to Yosemite since it reopened?  We have reservations for late July at Yosemite Valley Lodge and are trying to decide whether to go or cancel.  We have never been to Yosemite so this would be our first time to experience Yosemite Valley.  We have two kids aged 4 and 9.  We are also about to move out of state so this may be our last chance to go when the trip is fairly easy logistics-wise.  However, we're wondering if it's worth it to go now with all of the restrictions in place.  The shuttle around the Valley is closed, it seems that the ranger program and most museum/educational buildings are closed, we would have to wear masks everywhere, etc.  We want to rent bikes, but I'm worried about them being disinfected.  Same with common areas in the hotel and using public restrooms around the park.  Any thoughts/opinions?  For those who have been there, how restrictive and/or safe does everything feel?  Thank you!

    RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

    Oh, definitely cancel, and then transfer your reservations to me!

    In all seriousness, I don't think you'll ever have a better opportunity in Yosemite. With the restrictions on travel to the Park it's going to be amazing compared to the usual summer crowds. Disinfecting bikes? What on earth do you intend to do with them? Just keep your 4-yo from licking them too much :) !! It's too bad about the museums and visitor centers but there is still a lot to see just outdoors.

    We just got back from Lassen and it was fabulous - camping and hiking and swimming. We found that people (park staff, fellow campers, folks in the surrounding communities) were kind, open, generous, and friendly, and we all found ways to maintain appropriate distances. When you see someone approaching on the trail, your group or the other one pulls off at the nearest wide spot on the trail (some people pull up their mask - whatever you're comfortable with), and you pass each other - it's just like driving up one of the narrow roads int eh Berkeley Hills. You will be in a place of wonder and beauty and you will be sharing it with other people who are appreciating one of the most spectacular treasures of nature in the US. I envy you guys - definitely do not give up on Yosemite!

    RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

    I haven't been there since the pandemic began, so you can take this with a grain of salt, but I want to say that the opportunity to be in Yosemite Valley when it is operating with limits on its normal number of visitors seems like such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime chance that you would be crazy to pass it up. Bring your own sanitizing wipes or bleach solution and a rag, and disinfect the rented bikes yourself. Wipe down anything you're worried about. Wear a mask and hold your breath while you go pee in a shared restroom. I think you can find ways to manage the risks when you are in an environment that mostly allows you to be outdoors. The ranger programs are nice, but they aren't really why you go to Yosemite. You're there to just take in the beauty of nature, and you can do that without a museum or ranger-guided activities. If you guys are able to ride bikes, you don't need the shuttle. Ride around, take in the gorgeous views of this very, very special place, and glory in all of it. Do I need to send you some photos of how crowded Yosemite Valley typically is in July?? :) You should go!

    RE: Yosemite during the pandemic ()

    We went to Yosemite three days after it opened. I think it’s an amazing time to go to Yosemite because they’re limiting the amount of cars coming into the park to 1000 cars, where in a typical summer day there was a 6000 car limitation. We stayed in cabins at Evergreen Lodge.   The cabin aspect was nice because you weren’t really indoors with other people and you could order your breakfast or dinner to go and eat outdoors at their picnic tables.  We brought a lot of snacks with us so we wouldn’t be reliant upon food at the park. The market was open but I’m not sure what else will be.  

  • Where to go for kids to ride a bike

    (31 replies)

    I do not mean to offend anyone.

    We have strictly adhered to social distancing. I have not even taken kids out for a walk and we rely 100% on contactless delivery.

    When I tend to the front yard, I wear a mask.

    I am sad that my kid learned to ride a bike a week before the SIP order and his shiny new bike is sitting in the garage. He’s wobbly and isn’t a proficient rider yet. He keeps asking when he can go out and ride his bike again...

    We used to go to a local elementary school to practice riding. I think it’s closed now.

    Is there a good place to go to practice bike riding in Oakland/Berkeley/Alameda or do we just need to be more patient?

    We don’t have flat streets in our neighborhood to practice riding. Seriously regretting buying a house on a hill...

    Just walking around my neighborhood the past few weeks I've seen a few places that would be good for little kid bike riding but you'd probably need to park nearby and walk over with the bikes. The Claremont hotel is closed right now and their lower parking area is accessible to little kids on bikes - I saw some there today. There's a small employee lot in front and a larger one in back near the tennis courts. There are a lot of paved plazas on the UC Berkeley campus - maybe look on google maps for likely spots. Clark Kerr campus has some open areas near where the Cal Youth camps were held. Saw some tricycles and scooters there. Good luck!

    I would try Kensington Park (there is a small circular track excellent for learning how to ride, or empty basketball court), or one of many empty parking lots at various schools, etc. As long as you keep distance, you should give you intrepid bike rider a welcome respite from the long and difficult time at home. Good luck!

    There are many nearly empty parking lots to choose from - the BART stations, shopping areas, etc. Basketball courts are a good option too. There are several streets closed to through traffic in Oakland as well and those are decent options. I have seen some people in Berkeley put up signs in the street that kids are playing to “soft close” the block so their kids can practice riding in the street - not legal, but effective and frankly a better use of street space at this point.

    If you’re serious about physical distancing, I would not recommend the Bay Trail, Ohlone Greenway, or popular parks. Many people are still using those and they do not distance (and many are still not wearing masks either). Nor would I recommend sidewalks, they are too narrow for proper distancing. I’ve been taking my kids on residential streets in Berkeley and Oakland, but they were solid riders before the shelter in place started. I really wish Berkeley would soft close some streets like Oakland is doing to create an abundance of space for kids to walk and bike where there isn’t crowding. But the city doesn’t seem interested.