Pandemic Skyzone?
November 28, 2020 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Would you take your kids to Skyzone Trampoline Park (in the United States) considering the state of the pandemic? Why or why not.

We are social distancing, wearing masks, and not gathering with family or friends. We also have two young kids who need to have some physical playtime if we want to get them to bed on time, and it's too cold to be outside for very long. Skyzone is a huge indoor space (as large as a warehouse) with high ceilings. There's so much air in the building that it could be considered to be much safer than going to an office or restaurant.

My wife and I are going back and forth on whether this is safe vs whether we want the kids tearing apart our house. What would you do?
posted by kdern to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This article suggests that a really big factor to consider is how the trampoline part is run, especially: Will your kids (and you) be maintaining distance from people outside your household. Another super-important factor is: how high is covid incidence in your area?
posted by ManInSuit at 6:27 PM on November 28, 2020

Their safety information does not say they require guests to wear masks, which I assume if they did require that they would want to make it clear up front to reduce the number of fighty antimaskers who are caught by surprise. Their private experiences might be okay, if they clean them between groups and their ventilation is good.
posted by aubilenon at 6:28 PM on November 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

Dress them up warmer. Thermal underwear. Ski jackets. Properly warm mittens. Stay outside. Go to a nearby nature preserve/forest trail so there’s less ability to go back inside before they’ve had enough activity.

Please don’t add to unnecessary indoor activities.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:28 PM on November 28, 2020 [64 favorites]

Much of this depends on where in the US you are, but I personally would not. My kids are young and high energy and we live in the upper midwest so we know cold, but I would not be at all comfortable with the risks.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:31 PM on November 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

Completely covered in feet that have been walking around many houses. No.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

I do not have kids or currently live in the snow. But I have lived in cold climates and I did my best not to let it stop me from going outside.

I would not. I would explain why we were waiting for the pandemic to be over in a way that illustrates ethics-based decision-making skills. I would make sure to frame it in a positive light.

I asked an Alaskan once, how do you make it through the winter? The answer was, you have to take up an outdoor sport.

Here is a recent thread on spending time outside in the cold.

posted by aniola at 6:55 PM on November 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

Why or why not.

Not. Every single surface in a Skyzone has been sneezed at and sweated on by every single person jumping around in them, and the whole place is cleaned and sanitized by teenagers working part time and making minimum wage. You might as well be telling them to go tire themselves out in a petri dish.
posted by mhoye at 6:57 PM on November 28, 2020 [44 favorites]

I might do it if I could have my kids wearing N95 masks and ski goggles during, and if I knew that all guests could only be inside for a limited amount of time. But jumping/exercising creates heavy breathing, which is riskier than sitting quietly, so it’s likely that even a short amount of jumping greatly accelerates the amount of aerosolized breath particles. Are you able to go observe and see whether the kids who are jumping are wearing masks? (I would hesitate if they aren’t.) I personally don’t feel that the high ceilings are much of a bonus, considering that the guests’ breath isn’t going to rise that much higher than they are tall, but will definitely come down. Current evidence shows that most of the illness is caught by person-to-person spread, especially through the air, and hardly at all through fomites. So the assurance from facilities that they wipe things down a lot doesn’t reassure me much, because the issue isn’t “don’t touch anything,” it’s “don’t breathe the air.” Kinda hard to avoid!
posted by Knowyournuts at 6:59 PM on November 28, 2020 [10 favorites]

I would not even consider doing this. An athletic facility encourages heavy breathing. Trampoline jumping encourages yelling, screaming, hooting, and hollering. It encourages roughhousing among groups of friends.

Someone above says the park does not require patrons to wear masks. If that's the case, it speaks poorly of their COVID hygiene practices in general.

I know being stuck inside with kids sucks. Believe me, I know. Especially today I know it really hard and depressingly. But I wouldn't take kids to an indoor trampoline park at this time. It's just not something people should be doing.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:00 PM on November 28, 2020 [18 favorites]

I wouldn't take my (non-existent) kids to SkyZone without covid. Trampoline parks have terrible safety numbers.

In the pandemic era, I think it is safer than a crowded exercise class in a small, hot room like zumba or spinning class, but it is a high exertion activity which means lots of people breathing heavily and yelling happily and that's going to spread droplets and aerosols way more than if they were sitting in the same space.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:01 PM on November 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

Are you able to go observe and see whether the kids who are jumping are wearing masks?

There is no chance, none whatsoever, that children are wearing effective masks properly in a warehouse made of trampolines. None. The fact that they're still open at all is a shameful failure of our public health officials.

Look, this whole question is insane. Should you bring your children into a big room full of people who sweat and sneeze and hyperventilate during a pandemic whose transmission vector is sweat and sneezing and hyperventilating and where sweating, sneezing or hyperventilating near somebody by accident will just straight up kill their grandparents in a month, a room that's cleaned by teenagers who make minimum wage and don't have decent cleaning supplies or masks for themselves and wouldn't give two fucks about it even if they were paid enough to? No, you should not.
posted by mhoye at 7:09 PM on November 28, 2020 [35 favorites]

If other users are there at the same time, absolutely not. If for no other reasons, every time you land when jumping it expels a tiny oof of exhalation. Kids also tend to get excited and yell.

I now know two families who were being incredibly careful, grocery runs only, who've gotten covid this month. Given the exponential explosion in cases and both deliberate and misinformed lack of compliance with best practices, offices and restaurants (which have never been safe, don't confuse "open" with "should be open") are not a good benchmark for safety. Nowhere is safe.

Bundle up, go somewhere where there's not other people outside, and run them to exhaustion. Play tag or snow volleyball or "run up that hill real fast" for as long as you can. Maybe find some dance exercise videos or dance games you can play at home. I'm sorry, this sucks, but the possible consequences suck a whole lot more.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:13 PM on November 28, 2020 [8 favorites]

I want to push back against those who say "absolutely no way" or suggest its a deathtrap. I am the parent of a 5-year old. I would not be worried a lot about the unclean surfaces in the place, since that is not how covid gets transmitted. I can see a situation where I can begin to imagine takin my kid. If

a) I were in a place with relatively low incidence in the community at large (so that the odds are you would not actually be near someone with covid)
b) I had reason to believe the facility was taking great precautions: Mainly - keeping people far from each other (I'd want at least 10 feet from the nearest jumpers, at a *minimum*. Masks on all customers. Ventilation.

I don't know about the first item. But your profile suggests you are in St Louis, where the test positivity rate is 15%. Which is HUGE. This means there will almost surely be people in that place who are covid positive.

So, as someone who in general thinks "Meh, some risks are worth taking", I would see this as a risk not worth taking.
posted by ManInSuit at 7:19 PM on November 28, 2020 [13 favorites]

Thank you for the feedback so far. A little more info:

We live in St Louis, MO.

We would be going during "Toddler Time", which is the first hour of the morning before it's open to the general public. Pre-pandemic there might be 15 kids (with parents) in the facility.
posted by kdern at 7:19 PM on November 28, 2020

Another reason not to go: If it is cold where you are, what you really need to do is: Invest in figuring out long-term, sustainable ways to get through the winter. Figuring out how to play outside in the cold and/or how to be active indoors, is going to have a way better payoff than a trip to the Trampoline place. (Tip: When we were in full lockdown, my kid got really into superhero workout videos. There are a million of them on youtube and they are one way to keep kids physically active indoors)
posted by ManInSuit at 7:21 PM on November 28, 2020 [8 favorites]

So I run martial arts academies, one of which is open and one in a lockdown zone.

We have modified our program. Everyone wears masks, we have good ventilation and filtering, we clean our equipment, we have small classes, and I have extra staff on to monitor masks and distancing. (We also have online classes.) I’ve been monitoring everything.

No, I would not do this. The masks are going to come off, kids will breathe, sniff, and slobber, the droplets will hit the equipment, their hands will go down on the trampolines or the sides, and they will run their eyes (bouncing makes air and dust in their faces.) Especially if your kids are young enough for toddler time in which case those fingers will be elsewhere.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:23 PM on November 28, 2020 [14 favorites]

...this is what my extra staff spend time preventing and even in a structured class it’s work.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:24 PM on November 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

No. Enclosed space. People breathing heavily and yelling. No. Sorry but no.

(I'm a parent and a nurse)
posted by latkes at 7:36 PM on November 28, 2020 [10 favorites]

Nthing no, and keep playing outside through the winter. People go skiing in the single digits and spend all day outside playing in the snow. I ride my bike through the winter in NYC. Certainly you can get them some long johns, scarves, and mittens and let them run around in the park in the St. Louis winter.
posted by soy_renfield at 7:40 PM on November 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

This Event Risk Assessment Tool might be helpful. You pick a county and the number of people you expect to be present and it gives you an estimate of the odds that at least one COVID-19 positive person will be present. For St. Louis County, if you pick 15 people it gives you a 44% chance and if you pick 20 people, it's 55%. So if you really want to avoid being in the same space with someone who has COVID, going to the trampoline park probably isn't a great idea.
posted by Redstart at 9:41 PM on November 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

There've been a series of NYT articles around indoor vs. outdoor play for this pandemic winter in the last couple of weeks. Others have covered trampoline parks specifically, but it sounds like not going to them still leaves you in need of solutions for your kids getting a sufficient level of energetic play.

* Though not specifically addressing indoor trampoline parks, How Risky Are Indoor Sports This Winter? raises concerns over how frequently equipment is cleaned between parties. Honestly, if you're in there with 15 people who are not in your household and one of them has COVID but might be asymptomatic, how well the equipment was cleaned *previously* isn't going to matter because you're sharing that equipment with them in real time, probably with at best mixed compliance on keeping masks on and a lot of heavy, energetic breathing.

* As Winter Looms, Outdoor Schools Face Tough Decisions brings up Iowa's Department of Public Health guidelines around outside play for kids: above 32F and with wind speeds under 15 mph, they're fine "indefinitely." Between 13F and 32F, or with stronger winds, kids should have their temperature monitored more closely. Under 13F, "young children shouldn’t be outside at all, and that older kids should be outside only briefly." Does Missouri's DPH have similar guidelines? These seem comparable to what I've seen schools in Massachusetts do with their kids, both for regular schools' recess and outdoor schools' general practices, and with the right clothing, would let your kids get sufficient running around outside more days than not, even days you might be thinking are "too cold" right now.

* Yes, Your Kids Can Play Outside All Winter has useful guidelines on how to dress kids for extended outdoor winter play. Short summary: wool or synthetic inner layers (cotton is bad), waterproof outer layers (boots, snow suit, mittens), carry around an extra pair of socks for each kid because they'll get their feet wet somehow despite these precautions.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:19 PM on November 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

Going to echo everyone here. In Chicago with similar rates of transmission and thanksgiving just happened so there is an expecting spike in...three days from now pretty much.

And even if you decide to go, and if it's reasonably safe. (It's not!) You do want to avoid activities which carry the risk for injury, because even if things go well covid wise , a trip to the ER because accident will put you in contact with lots of covid.

My kid is in outdoor school here, with a small group of parents who've pledged to pretty much not do anything else with their kids. This is year round outdoor pods 3 days a week. I've been incredibly anxious about the so much outdoor time when it's freezing outside. But with the right gear, and time she's loving it, and were so thankful that we have this option available to us for now. I expect a stay at home order pretty much any day now, but it hasn't happened yet. And I would not let her go to a trampoline park. I don't want her in the grocery store. I shouldn't even have her in outdoor school but ultimately I'm an essential worker and child care is a requirement. I'm not going to be able to get around that.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:31 PM on November 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

I definitely will NOT be taking my kids to the trampoline park, no matter how much they yearn to get back to normal activities.

It's true that research has shown Covid to be spread more through droplets and airborne particles than through contaminated surfaces. However I am relatively certain none of the experiments involved surfaces that were bouncing up and down in time with toddler feet. What kind of particulate cloud does that raise? (I have visions of the character Pig-Pen from the early Peanuts cartoons.)

Moreover: yelling, laughing, coughing, breathing hard, failing to use masks correctly, etc. as mentioned already.
posted by wjm at 1:23 AM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Hell no. And that you even ask shows the problem we have here. No really, we can’t be traveling and having fun right now.

I’m the son of an ICU nurse so pardon me for screaming in frustration.
posted by spitbull at 3:21 AM on November 29, 2020 [25 favorites]

No. Stay home.
posted by james33 at 5:12 AM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I feel you. I am in Minnesota with a 5yo and a 2yo and ALL our usual go-tos for getting through the winter are not options this year. They need to be run like greyhounds and I am not totally sure what we are going to do to survive. Toddlers tend to struggle in snow no matter how good their winter gear is (at least, mine does) and a lot of the “just throw them outside” advice is more for the sturdy elementary kids who can walk themselves back up the sledding hill. A two year old has short legs and in deep snow will just demand YOU carry them. Every damn time I think “oh! Let’s play in the snow, they’ll love it” and by ten minutes in I’m either hauling the little one around myself, or snow got into a boot or a mitten and they’re upset about it or someone is mad they fell face first into the snow or their snowman doesn’t look right or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be doing it every single weekend this winter, but it is not always the slam dunk kid-tiring activity people think it is.

So I very much understand the temptation but I would not bring my kids to SkyZone right now, even if it is early AM toddler time. Honestly my strategy is going to involve buying an air mattress for them to bounce on and eventually destroy, hauling all the cushions off the couch onto the floor, and setting up a mini trampoline with music playing so they can careen around the house just bouncing off of shit. We are also still going to outdoor playgrounds as long as the air temp is around 20 - 30F. I also get regular alcohol deliveries. YMMV. I wish you luck.
posted by castlebravo at 7:32 AM on November 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

No way! It just isn't worth the risk.
posted by SageTrail at 9:44 AM on November 29, 2020

It's not outdoors, so, no.
posted by theora55 at 11:44 AM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would not do this not only because of the COVID risk but also because the risk of sustaining a trampoline-related injury is not insignificant and I am not doing things that might send me to the ER right now.
posted by coppermoss at 4:35 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

Agree that the best idea is getting them (and you) used to outdoor play in the cold instead. We have relatives in Alaska and the elementary kids where they are go outside for recess down to 0 F (-17 C). You just have to have the right clothes and attitude :-)
posted by freecellwizard at 9:02 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

you're always going to get a chorus of "stay home!!!" here on the green but in this case... yeah. It's indoors and there's a lot of breathing and yelling. That is, lots of aerosols and particulates going into the air; and the space is enclosed, so the concentration goes up and up. I wouldn't do it.

And by the way, you'd think that people would - this many months into this ghastly mess - at the VERY LEAST have the awareness and consideration to not go out in public when they're already obviously sick. But this would be incorrect, as was just demonstrated to me this morning by some snuffling sociopath at the grocery store. So... don't depend on others' decency or even basic life skills to be part of the equation.

I think it's wrong and unrealistic to scream "stay home" at people constantly. The messaging needs to be "do everything you can to expose yourself and others to the minimum concentration of other people's exhalations." Indoor exercise activity seems like it's going to be right out.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:05 PM on November 30, 2020

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