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District communities worry as staff and program changes are made at DC Recreation Centers

COVID-19 restrictions mean all but 10 District of Columbia Recreation Centers have been closed since the pandemic started.

WASHINGTON — Staff and schedule changes at DC Recreation Centers have some residents concerned about the future of their community centers.

"It just happened, right? The last day of summer meals. And that's, that was it," said Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Villareal Johnson. He said the Department of Parks and Recreation did not notify community members when the building was to be closed. 

“I think the problem initially, is when you don't effectively communicate in the beginning, people assume,” said Johnson.

Neighbors quickly came to conclusions on the Next-door App. Soon, a meeting was held to answer questions and come up with a plan to keep services in their community despite COVID-19 restrictions.

A Department of Park and Recreation spokesperson said all city rec centers have technically been closed since March, with some reopening simply for the summer meal and learning programs. 

Credit: wusa9

According to DPR, only 10 out of 66 centers are currently open for after school meals. However, since the city is in Phase 2 of reopening, all outdoor spaces — like playgrounds — will remain open for gathering of less than 50 people.

Over in Hillcrest, we’re told the rec center in that community will reopen for November’s elections since the building serves as the area’s polling place.

According to DPR, staff members from these closed facilities are working from home or have been temporarily reassigned. 

According to the city's reopening plan, DC recreation centers will reopen in Phase 3. In a statement, a DPR spokesperson said they are working on programming for the fall with guidance from the mayor and the District's health department.

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