Chicago Park District cancels most programs due to coronavirus concerns

Enhanced programming will still be available at 18 parks for CPS students.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot listens as Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, provides an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot listens as Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, provides an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus on Wednesday.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The Chicago Park District will suspend most programs until further notice starting Sunday in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, city officials announced Saturday.

That includes postponing all events expected to draw 250 people or more, Park District Supt. Michael P. Kelly said in a statement, joining Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state health officials in urging people to stay home to help stem the coronavirus outbreak.

The park district is still offering “enhanced programming” at 18 parks available for the 350,000-plus Chicago Public Schools students who won’t have classes starting next week, after Pritzker on Friday ordered all Illinois schools closed through the end of the month.

Each of those programming locations will be limited to 250 people, under guidelines set by the governor.

The park district “has not received information suggesting that any patron or employee has contracted COVID-19,” Kelly said.

Bathrooms and shelters at most parks and field houses will remain open during regular hours of operation. Employees have stepped up cleaning efforts in the wake of the coronavirus spread and won’t activate water fountains.

“In the meantime, we will evaluate the need to suspend Spring 2020 programs which are scheduled to begin March 30th,” Kelly said.

Registration fees from suspended programs will be credited for future use.

For a list of parks offering programming during the CPS closure, visit the park district website.

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